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Introducing a new haunt to the house Greetings all!

My name's David, I'm 32--soon to be 33--from Surrey, England... Already sounds a bit like a pick-up ad, doesn't it? I am single for whoever cares!

Anyway, I started writing about seven years ago when a world bloomed inside my head, and it's been a long process fraught with heartache, but finally I've reached a stage where I've been able to put out a piece of work I'm proud of. (Don't worry, there'll be no shameless plugging here!)

If I'm honest, were somebody to have told me ten years ago that I'd one day be writing stories I'd have probably laughed. English was my worst subject in school, was never a school guy in general, and I'm ashamed to say that I don't do much reading... which is odd, because what I do read I tend to really enjoy.

At anyrate, writing a book and making it visible for people to read are two completely different beasts. Yes, I'm talking about that horror stage known as... marketing. I've never been much of a social person, and my network is limited to a tiny pink laptop I tap away on in Starbucks every day--mum's hand-me-downs are a wonderful thing, no? But I'm hoping to change that.

In my quest to discover my 'target audience' I came across this online tavern and was instantly blown away--not only by the enthusiasm from those readers over at the main bar, but also that warm glow coming from the fire in the writers' corner. I was up till 2am last night reading post after post of people who share my plight... and for the first time in this whole process I didn't feel so alone.

So yea, that's me and why I'm here, and regardless of where this long writing road I'm walking takes me, I feel this will be a place I'll enjoy frequenting along the way.

March 29, 2015, 01:41:24 PM
Re: Plotting backwards I always have an ending in mind before I begin. I'm a rather meticulous plotter though, and like to run off 20 pages of bullet points before I even work on the first sentence. Just thinking about writing off the top of my head scares the crap out of me. I'd only end up counting the words and panicking if there's no conclusion in sight.

Personally speaking, as a reader as well as a writer, I consider the ending the most crucial part of the story--that final lasting memory of the imaginative experience. If people don't like the story then they'll stop reading part way through, but those that get to the end absolutely deserve to be rewarded for it. I want it to be the biggest moment, and if that happens to be a scene that's popped into my own mind without any backstory to it then I consider I'm off to a pretty good start.

March 30, 2015, 12:05:04 AM
Re: [Mar 2015] - Rogues - Submission Thread I know it's late and don't expect it to count, but the title of this competition sparked some creativity in me. So here's my entry at 1085 words. It's a bit rushed, so not as crisp as I'd like, but hopefully it should be readable before people pass on to April's round. Enjoy!

The Payment

Spoiler for Hiden:
He checked his pocket watch. It was getting late. The sun was only half down, but the alley was already clothed in shadow. This was the place—he was sure of it... But nobody was here.
He sighed. He knew that asshole Hamad wasn't good for his word. An easy job... hah! Just go in, help the guy out, and get paid. “Who's the guy?” he'd asked. Oh, he doesn't go by names.
He sighed again. He was smarter than this; he should have heard the warning bells then and there.
Once more he checked the time. Tick-tock... Tick-tock... Tick—
“Where's Hamad?”
He jumped and turned to face the owner of the ancient voice. The silhouette of a man materialised from the darkness, his body coiled in a black garment, as though he wore the very shadows that had born him. The glint of a glass eye flashed beneath his cowl. “I asked you a question,” the contact said, his fingers stiff as though long past rigor-mortis.
“Hamad sent me to help you.”
“He did, did he...? So you've brought my payment?”
“Like hell I have. I'm here to help you get it. This is a job, right?”
“Job...? A job? I wanted him to pay me what I'm owed, not send me a wet behind the ears pup to potty train.”
“I'll have you know I'm a grade-A grifter.” He lifted the watch up by its chain and gave it a yank so that it swung like a pendulum. “And this sparkling beauty here was picked from the pocket of a preacher while his flock watched on.”
“Huh...? So you think you're the best?”
“I know I'm the best. And the best are busy men, so why don't you tell me how much Hamad owes you and just how we're gonna get it, eh?”
The contact floated up to him and nodded towards the other side of the street where a merchant was selling fruit at a makeshift stall. “You see that boy over yonder? He sells his families fruit until the wee hours of the morning. Likes to catch the drunken crowds leaving the bar up the road. Makes a tidy profit, I'd say. Keeps it in a pouch hidden under the hay of his cart back there. It should be enough to settle up.”
“So we're gonna steal it?”
“You are going to steal it. I'll be watching from here.”
He smirked. “And what's in this for me?”
“I'll take what I'm owed and you can have the rest.” The glass eye shone back at him. “I'll even throw in a lesson in the art of the backstab.”
“No offence, old man, but there ain't nothing you can teach me I don't already know.”
“We'll see. Now run along and get me my payment.”
“Watch and learn,” he said as he shuffled past him and out the alley.

The town bell tolled eight as he stepped onto the pebbled streets. He put on a drunken swagger as he cased the target. The cart was beside a small path between the buildings that was blocked off by a fence. The boy manning the stall noticed him. “Interest ya in a piece o' fruit, govenor?”
Dumb twat crept to mind. This was almost too easy.
“Fruit!?” he slurred in a hoarse voice. “Why... what a fan— What a fan— What a fantabulous idea. Hit me up!”
He wobbled over and pulled some coins from his pocket, making sure to spill a couple on the floor in good performance. The boy picked them up, slyly pocketing a shilling for his own as he did. Clever twat replaced the previous thought.
He chose an apple worth five shillings and paid for it with a gold guinea. The boy returned ten shillings change—five shillings short of what it should have been. Proper twat was now his new title.
He continued his unstable stroll down the street while keeping an eye on the cart to see exactly where the boy stashed his ill gotten gains—halfway down on the left hand side. So on he headed, round the corner, and another soon after to go back the other way, scanning the splits between the buildings until he saw the familiar fence. There he patiently he waited for the next exchange, all the while stretching his fingers on the wood like a cat clawing a couch.
“Interest ya in a piece o' fruit, madam?”
And just like a cat he was over the fence and touching silently down on the other side. He reached into the hay and immediately found the pouch, as though his hand and it were destined to be together. Oh my, was it heavy. He had half a mind to take it all and leave. Then again, some things were worth more than mere coin, such as the look on an old fool's grizzled face when he's been shown up by the new generation.
Returning to the alley, he entered it with a swank stride and tossed the pouch at his contact's feet. “Told you I was the best,” he had to quip.
The man sneered as he picked it up to count the contents. Piece... by piece... the coins disappeared into the shadowy folds of his garment.
“Do take your time, old man,” he said, removing the pocket watch with a sigh. “Some of us have many years still left on our lives... though I'd like to get home before daybreak if it's all the same to you.”
The counting stopped; the glass eye twinkled. “Hamad is on his way to collect you.”
Before he knew it the contact was stood in front of him. The half-empty pouch pressed into his chest along with a piece of paper folded into a small square. “What's this?” he asked.
“The lesson I promised you.”
Intrigued, he pocketed the watch and pouch and unfolded the paper to read the message aloud:
“The next time you fuck with me Hamad this will be you...
"What do you mean this will—”
His voice ceased to function as cold metal slid into his kidney. A chill rippled down his neck as the glint of glass crept up in the corner of his eye. The pouch and watch rose up before him, each caught between stiff fingers. “So you're the best, huh? Didn't anybody ever teach you... there's no honour among thieves.”

March 31, 2015, 05:04:54 PM
Re: Limited 3rd person POV and detailed descriptions
I think this is a writing question, and I'm interested what you all think. In limited 3rd person POV, should descriptions be limited to what can be noticed realistically in the current light, time and situation? Or do we give the writer a pass and let her fill in the full picture? Does it just depend on how well it's done?

I think in any writing point of view you need to only relay what's important to the story. When people say that writing is painting a picture with words, it doesn't mean you literally draw a picture and then colour it in. Our minds are like robotic artists--yes, we all have an android Picasso in our heads! The words on the page are merely the coding they use to paint with. And as with any coding, the more convoluted it is the greater the chance the machine gets confused and halts with an error.

So let's break this paragraph down piece by piece:

"The figure - a man by his height - was swathed in shades of green: cloaked, hooded, wearing a faded tunic and linen leggings above green-dyed leather boots."

The first thing that struck me here is why does height = man? A better word would have been build or bulk, but if you just want to clarify the gender just say: The figure--a man--was swathed...
In terms of colour, this goes back to colouring in the picture. A question for you: What does it matter if one reader imagines him in blue, another red, another tan, and another in white with bright pink polkadots and flourescent green stripes? I'd say the only time you should mention the colour of anything is if it's relevant--and it may well be. For example, if the world has three factions and it's well known one wears green, one blue, and one violet, then if you see this stranger approaching on the road you'll immediately go, "Aha! Green. He's part of the Cordani Clan." I'm pretty certain that's not the case here, because the author goes on to use the knife as an indicator of where this individual's allegiance lies.
As for describing the attire... meh. For me this falls into the region of excess detail. Clothingwise, there's nothing this guy's wearing that stands out from what every single traveller in a fantasy world wears. This is like writing the description of a modern day businessman as, 'He wore a white buttoned shirt beneath a black blazer, his ironed trousers dyed dark blue, and leather shoes so polished you could see your reflection in them.' That may be a nice descriptive sentence, but it doesn't give the reader anything they didn't already know after seeing: businessman. That's the word of code that's set their internal artist off painting the picture in their head.
Finally, there's a repetition. We already know the man is swathed in shades of green (swathed is a nice word btw :) ), so what's the relevance that his boots are dyed green? Surely his entire attire has been dyed green? If it's a case of emphasising the guy has a thing for green it's already been done. Just let the boots be boots.

"A single long-knife, the weapon of choice among Seven Cities Warriner's, was slung through a thin belt."

This is good. I'd remove the word 'single'. replace 'a thin' with 'his', and question the hyphon, but otherwise Yora nailed it earlier when she said that what she got from this piece is 'Big knife'.
When I do character descriptions I look at it as relaying their personality rather than drawing their person. What's important is not WHAT they're wearing, but WHY they're wearing it. And it's those unusual items which show the reader the individual's character. For example: if someone is wearing a crucifix do you think, "Ah, that's a pretty necklace," or, "Christian."? The crucifix immediately gives you insight into this character's religious views, and you didn't even need the bland sentence, 'He/She was a Christian' to do it.
That's what the knife here is doing--giving insight into this new character's affiliations. And although the author's needed to explain that due to it being a world quirk, that's okay, because this is exactly the sort of thing our PoV character will notice. Fuck his green clothes! He's got a Seven Cities Wariner's knife at his side!

"The man's hands, faintly grey in the afternoon light, glittered with rings, rings on every finger, above and below the knuckles. He raised one now, holding up a clay jug."

Going back to character descriptions as a means of relating personality traits, this again isn't too bad. It's questionable whether you'd see the rings or man's hands as being grey from the distance we're assuming he is. This also applies to why he's raising a jug to our protagonist when, in our heads, he's upwards of a mile down the road. It almost feels like there's a sentence missing to let us know that the characters have come a lot closer and are now within speaking distance of one another.
As for the description, I don't know what the relevance of grey hands is. Maybe the author's trying to be metaphorical in the sense that the man's a shady individual, or perhaps they're trying to dump in the scene's time of day which, if so, is in completely the wrong place. But I suspect it's more about colouring in the picture again, in which case it can and should be cut.
The rings are clearly aimed to show the man's wealthy--possibly a trader as he has a jug? But the author went into way too much detail for the sake of giving him a noticable quirk. Though it's correct that every bend in your fingers are called knuckles, I suspect most would only picture knuckles as those bony protrusions where your fingers join the hand's body. Even knowing what is meant, the idea of somebody with a ring on every part of every finger begs the question: how do they use their hands? While fingers bend, metal doesn't, and if you put that much on you will more or less be locked open-handed. I'd pull this description back by just saying there was a ring on every finger, and if you want the quirk mention that each was inset with a different coloured gemstone, lined up like a rainbow had been grafted over his knuckles... Or you could just make them all green peridots. The guy seems to be in need of a little more green on him.

April 01, 2015, 05:14:12 PM
Re: [Apr 2015] - Werewolf, Vampire, Girl - Discussion Thread My 10 step story of membership to Fantasy Fiction so far:
- Joined about a week ago.
- Got hooked on this section and blitzed out a short story yesterday (which I really enjoyed doing)
- Refreshed forum all day with great anticipation of what WVG meant as April's topic.
- Read elaborated title 5 mins ago.
- Saw picture in the overscroll.
- Fumbled for the account details to learn how to unsubscribe.
- Decided before I was too hasty that I'd see if the topic was really that bad and whether I could stomach fixing Twilight.
- Concluded that I don't have that much time on this earth and went back to find that blasted unsub button.
- Noticed the word April Fools in the follow up post.
- Gave xiagan an internet thumbs up for legitimately making me laugh.

April 01, 2015, 06:46:45 PM
Re: [Apr 2015] - Werewolf, Vampire, Girl - Discussion Thread
It's kind of sad that the only idea I have for the real theme now has a werewolf, vampire, and a girl in it. But I don't think I go down that road. ;D

You're not alone here, but I will go down that road if only to smite those who would so callously toy with our emotional imagination. Ask and thou shall receive. Expect to see a rollercoaster of steamy monster romance here by the end of the week.

April 02, 2015, 11:41:56 AM
Re: [Apr 2015] - Plot Twist! Werewolf, Vampire, Goat - Submission Thread You did ask for it. WVG with a twist. 771 words.

<DISCLAIMER: This is an original work. Any similarities drawn from any number of modern day masterpieces is entirely coincidental. The author holds no accountability for any emotional scarring that might result from reading this material.>

Breaking up.

Spoiler for Hiden:
Annabelle had a big decision to make; she had to choose between her two favourite boys. This was because she'd come into her room to find them both in a bundle on the floor, fighting... again—over her, no doubt. They each got terribly jealous whenever she gave the other attention. But even without her influence they could never be friends, because Ed was a vampire and Jake a werewolf, and it's a well known fact that vampires and werewolves just don't get along.
She was ashamed to say that Ed was probably her favourite, and as such she'd share her bed with him most nights. They'd always begin with a gentle kiss on the lips, and slowly he'd bury his soft face into her neck, making her feel all warm and tingly inside. His fangs would sometimes scratch her, but that was okay, because they weren't as sharp as most vampires' fangs. He couldn't turn into a bat either, oddly enough... but he could fly—that's what vampires do. It never took long for his tender caresses to put her under his spell and then they'd be flying naked together through the night sky. The world beneath them seemed so small... not that she ever paid it much attention. Up there her eyes were only for Ed. The way he sparkled in the moonlight was simply magical.
But as wonderful an experience as sleeping with Ed was, she was always concerned about neglecting poor Jake. So, to save face, she'd occasionally concede to letting him sleep with her instead. His hide was itchy and his tongue rough—which always made her shiver whenever he licked against her skin. From time to time she'd wake up to find him no longer by her side, and only after a panicked glance around the room did she part her legs to see that slippery tuft of fur had snuck off down there, tongue out, panting away. Whenever his course hairs tickled the insides of her thighs she'd roll her head back on the pillow and giggle before saying, "Oh, Jake. You naughty, naughty boy you."
Still, what nightly action Jake lost out on was more than made up for during the day, because vampires can't go out into daylight—not the real ones, anyway. Not that that ever stopped Ed, mind you. He could break that sacred rule for her because... why not? They were soul-mates, and nothing could keep soul-mates apart. At times she even felt like he could read her mind...
Nah, that would be silly. But still, he always seemed to be there when she needed him, especially after those long days of shopping when, tired from the hustle of people, she'd sit down, reach out both arms and call his name, and in a blink of an eye he'd appear to meet her embrace and make her feel loved. Ed was so fast. Like, super fast. Unbelievably fast, even!
Jake was fast too though, and the scamp loved to play hide and seek whenever they went for walks through the park together. She liked to find a secluded tree to settle down under where they could chat intimately until her legs cramped up and she had to stretch them. But so often he was gone by the time she returned. Just vanished! So she'd frantically run around screaming his name for what felt like hours, only to then find him lying down next to that very same tree with a cheeky grin on his mushy face.
Oh... he could make her so angry; but that was only because she cared deeply for him. He was a good listener... a good friend, and she didn't want to lose him—she didn't want to lose either of them. But this constant bickering over her affections needed to end. She couldn't carry on like this. It was tearing her apart inside. One simply had to go.
Annabelle sat cross-legged on her bed before the two culprits and frowned. Ed's shiny bead eyes stared blindly away from her with such shame—and deservedly so. And Jake's felt tongue was, as usual, hanging out—but she wasn't about to let that adorable look sway her decision in his favour.
She puffed out her left cheek. The urge to cry gripped her. Why were matters of the heart this hard?—how was she supposed to choose between them?—this wasn't fair—she loved them both so, so dearly...
But then she was almost six years old now. Perhaps it was just time to put both the toys away and find herself a real boy to play with instead?

April 02, 2015, 07:30:20 PM
Re: Limited 3rd person POV and detailed descriptions The text in this particular example isn't omniscient writing though. Not that I consider myself an expert, but as I understand it, omni writing is when the narrator is the all seeing eye of god that's looking down on events from above. This isn't the case here, because the narrator doesn't even know the traveller is a man until he makes a judgement call on his height.

If this were omni surely we should be getting specific details of why this man's on the road and his motives in order to build tension for the inevitable meeting with our protagonist. This piece reads like a disjointed third-person where the author is trying to give the suspense of a mysterious figure approaching from the distance, but failed to actually bring him up to our protagonist before he jumped into describing him.

Even still, this is a moot discussion. As the term Point of View states, the only thing that changes between each style is... the Point of View. The events, characters, and world remain constant. Regardless of PoV this scene is still: Protagonist meets traveller on the road --> things happen. The structure of the scene should be: Setting > Approach > Meet > Relevant Character Description > Action/Narrative. Why would an omni style describe sombodies appearance from a mile away when they'll be face to face with our protagonist within two paragraphs later?

Going a little bit deeper, as omni I could write this traveller as:

He was swathed in shades of green, a ring on every finger--above and below the knuckles--as well as every toe within his tall boots. A scar, leftover from when he tumbled while playing tag at the age of five, ran all the way down his left shin beneath his linen leggings. A long knife, it's blade slightly curved--the weapon of choice among Seven Cities Wariner's--hung loosely from the belt securing his tunic. In its swing it occasionally aggravated a rather swollen carbuncle that had, only the other day, formed on the outskirts of his butt cheek. The pain was enough to put an awkward limp into his saunter. Sighing, he scratched wearily at the half-milimetre of stubble on his jawline before turning his jagged nails onto a mole just inside his nipple. The waning afternoon sun was wearing him down.

That's ridiculously descriptive, but at what point did you start to think, "This guy's just making bullshit up for the sake of wordcount." Which is exactly what it is, because 90% of that is likely be irrelevant to the greater story.

As another example, were I writing in first person and my protagonist had a distrustful personality trait I could well take note that this traveller is decked out fully in green:

"Who the hell wears all green? What's he trying to say here--that he's safe? Trustworthy? I'm sure that's really the case when you've got a Seven Cities Wariner's knife at your side. And just look at all those rings he's wearing. Bet he thinks he's some real hot stuff. Screw this dude. I'd better watch my back."

Though I've relayed the exact same information about this traveller as the original piece, every object is there for the express purpose of showing that my protagonist thinks this guy is about to hoodwink him. When in actual fact,  the guy might well be a friendly individual who happens to carry a knife for protection while he travels the wild roads to check on his daughter's farmstead.

April 03, 2015, 01:16:23 PM
Re: Do you read like a writer? I read like a writer, and yes, it's painful to do so. If I'm being honest, some of the things mentioned in Eric's article infuriate me. It's the sort of advice you see everywhere, yet were new writers to actually apply it they'd probably never get published, because most big names don't abide by any of the supposed rules.

One of the first books I read after starting to write was JK Rowlings Harry Potter. To clarify, I really liked it--a lot. For sure she's a fantastic author with wonderful characterisation and imagination. But I was doing a writing course at the time and one of the first laws it stated was not to use caps lock for shouting. We see it on forums and we cringe. Yet in the first thirty pages of Philosopher's Stone almost every time Harry's uncle blows a gasket at him we're delighted with two rows of block capital letters. This is the sort of thing that an aspiring nobody would get an instant rejection for. But not only has the most successful author of the modern age made this elementary mistake, her work has also gone through a large publishing house and been okayed by, I assume, a fleet of high paid editors. Some might argue that it's okay because it's a children's book, but is it? Do we really want children to learn that to shout on forums you hold down shift? So if I'm reading this work to see how it's done you can forgive me if I start capsing those words up, right?

Another I read was Stephen King's 'The Running Man'. Can't go wrong with some of the King. And honestly, I enjoyed this too. Was it a 5 star classic every review site claims?--absolutely not. The lead character spent almost 10 pages at the end stumbling over his own intestines which were hanging out from a gunshot wound to the stomach. They were getting caught up on chairs and everything--I mean, it was ludicrous. Then there was the descriptive scene of a new room that went something like: There was a bed on the right. There was a cabinet beside the bed. There was a lamp on the cabinet. There was a pen by the lamp. There was a door on the other side. He went through it. There was a sink. There was a tray above the sink. There was soap in the tray...
This may well have been an intended technique to show the PoV character as analysing the room, but it's still terrible writing, and were anyone who doesn't own a brand name to do this they'd get immediately castrated.
I then tried 'The Girl who Loved Tom Gordon', but gave up when the scene jumped 100 miles mid-sentence right after I'd been exposed to near ten pages of detailed description of the PoV character suffering from chronic diarrhea after drinking from a freshwater stream.
Next I considered trying IT, until I discovered the end involved a giant orgy scene with a bunch of 13 year olds.

This is the sort of stuff I pick up when I read modern works and--at risk of insulting half the people here--I could go into essays of what's wrong with Game of Thrones. "It's gritty and real" I hear people say--no it's not. "It has great characterisation"--no it hasn't. When I start picking the plot apart I realise it's held together by dental floss. I would even argue that the Daenerys arc, even if accidental, is as close to literary paedophilia as you could get. Yet there's no denying that it's a huge success--a terrific success even.

Twilight... the topic of an April Fools joke on this very forum. You don't have to search hard to find countless breakdowns of what's wrong with this works plotting and structure. Yet by the very advice from these experts around the world this is precisely the sort of material new writers should be pulling apart and trying to mimic in order to be successful.

The message I get from most of these modern day marvels is that so long as you fill the pages with enough corny romance or nonsensical sex scenes you've got yourself a hit. Fifty Shades of Grey is a real thing, after all.

Another cliche line if you want to learn how to write is to read Dickens. Serious question here: were Dickens alive today to write Oliver Twist do you think it would ever get published? An omni PoV narrative with Hand of God intervention on almost every plot twist, and a main character who has zero growth throughout the tale. Yet what I did pull from Oliver Twist was Dickens skill for metaphor. The way he compared the poor to rats by giving them the facial features of rodents... brilliant. I was awed at the skill in which he crafted Nancy's character, and the humanity he portrayed when the world rose up against the man who murdered her. The scene of Sykes hanging from his own noose is pretty much burned into my memory as the sort of thing I dream of being able to one day replicate in my own work.

Then there's Jane Austen. I'm not much of a romance person, but I did read Pride and Prejudice for writing research and it's by far my favourite book of all time. I couldn't finish 'Sense and Sensibility' mind you, but 'Pride and Prejudice'... pure brilliance. But the sad truth is that Jane Austen was a self published author because her work wasn't good enough for 'mainstream markets'. Her name as one of the all time greats only came about a hundred years after she was dead. That pretty much says all you need to know about the industry side of the profession, and its easy to find countless laments from famous authors across the centuries who were reduced to writing what they themselves knew to be hot garbage simply to put food on the table.

So yea, that's my late night rant. I apologise if I've inadvertedly offended anyone. This has been something that's been weighing on my chest for a while now, so it's good to let it out.

I'll leave off by saying, ScarletBea, come put your input on the writing forums anytime. I personally gain far more value from the view of a legitimate reader than I do picking apart any number of 'New York Times Bestseller'™.

And Skip, remember that all those greats you mentioned are great because they worked their ass off day in and day out to master their own style in the craft. I don't see any reason why that same principle shouldn't apply today, no less for your writing as for mine.

April 04, 2015, 02:24:32 AM
Re: Do you read like a writer? @RussetDivinity - I completely agree. I know why the caps are there. I still think she could have had the same effect with good old exclamation mark/italics, because Vernan's speech is excellent enough to get his wonderful personality across. But that's just personal preference. And yea, at the end of the day it's a really minor niggle for what is otherwise an excellent book with great characters and a really easy to read style.
The point I was trying to make is that your average publisher/agent probably only knows the basics, so when they see rows of caps in a manuscript it will likely be immediately thrown aside as a dud, even before the words themselves are read. This is why it's frustrating when you're at a stage where you're beginning to understand what an author is doing and why, but know damn well that were you to do the same the response will be that you're still an amateur who needs to study the greats to see how it's done.

@ultamentkiller - I'm not looking to make enemies. I don't doubt there's a large amount of Game of Thrones fans here. And you know what, that's cool. People like different things and there were certainly things I saw that I liked. As others have rightfully said, that's what you should pull out for your own writing. I thought the scene where King Robert and Eddard Stark were talking in the crypt was very well done.

@Rostum - I don't doubt Daenerys' age isn't accidental, but you can't compare this to Romeo and Juliet. Their motivations were based on love, not sex or building families, and Daenerys' marriage isn't in any way the same as that of Sansa and Joffrey's--which was done absolutely right. At anyrate, I don't want to derail this thread so I'll add my further thoughts in spoilers. Read if you care and by all means point out where I'm wrong, but I'm not looking to get into a rage war. I'm just looking for advice on where I'm going wrong with my analysis.

Spoiler for Hiden:
As I understand it, child marriages were to unite wealthy families/countries in a bond of peace. I don't think people in medieval times were marrying their children at early teens and throwing them out the door to raise a family together. Though we may be more technologically advanced we're still the same creatures. This was a ritual, not a way of life.

I don't get why Drogo is even getting married. Is there any sign the Dothraki tribe believes in marriage through all their rape and pillaging--not to mention ceremonies where they do blood sports for the right to mate? And if so, why has Drogo--alpha male of alpha males that he is--not got a string of wives already?

Surely Daenerys is but a piece of white meat tribute to him? As a writer analysing plot, all I see is a sham of a marriage which exists only to make what happens to her tolerable in most peoples eyes. Exactly the same reason she's consenting to sex on their honeymoon night, because the violent rape that should have happened were she and Drogo true to their characters--him the vicious barbarian who's hardly a stranger to unconsented sex--and she the girl who's lived a life of seclusion under her brother's thumb and has no experience with people, let alone boys--would surely have a large portion of the readership putting the book down.

Funnily enough, the very next scene 200 pages later has him banging her doggy style in the tent every night, despite the fact it's causing her pain due to her snow white buttocks being riddled with bright red saddle sores. Can he not see this? Where's the loving husband who asked for her permission for sex gone? Yet by the end of that chapter she's getting tips from her handmaidens on how to best please him so that he calls her name in his orgasm... because she wants to get pregnant.

You know, I've read lots of stories of teenage pregnancies, but have yet to see one where it happened because the girl decided she wanted to give birth and raise a child. I doubt very much that was different in medieval times. Who exactly taught Daenerys how babies were made? Her loving brother? Again, to me this feels like a dumb consent added just to make her pregnancy tolerable, because if she'd ended up so accidentally from all those rapings--sorry, marital relations--most readers would be outraged. As a writer, what I'm learning here is that I should create graphic scenes that will shock my readers so long as I bullshit them off as being something my characters want.

Going further still, she never actually has the baby because she suffers, in every sense of the term, a miscarriage. And all this is done so her breasts are loaded with milk for a pair of dragons to suckle on. Dragons: definition - giant snake. Mythical they may be, but surely they're still reptiles--it's why they lay external eggs--and reptiles don't suckle. Is this why people frown on public breast-feeding? Because the moment a milky mammary's pulled out every creature in the neighbourhood is going to try and latch on for a feast? I get this is done only to give the sense that she's their mother, but surely there's a ton of better ways you could do this.

Being a wannabe writer I break this plot down as: 13 year old girl is sold as a sex slave, forced to engage in intercourse against her wishes, gets pregnant, and then has a miscarriage just so dragons can appear to be her children. And she never deals with any of these serious themes she's put through. This being one of the greatest fantasy's of the modern age, is this the sort of stuff I'm to aspire to recreate as a budding fantasty writer? Is this really what the fantasy target audience really wants? Because it feels off to me.

Morals aside, as someone who aims for believable characters in my own writing I find it shocking that Daenerys can even stand by the end of her tale, especially when you plug in a traumatic euthanasia scene as well. I don't get how after all she's been through, her primary motivation is making  bid for a throne she knows nothing about other than how it was her brother's ambition to take--an ambition which was the root cause of all the suffering she's endured--a brother who she's already outright rejected when she turned her back on him to let him die.

And what about Viserys? This is a man who is willing to throw his only remaining family member--let alone future wife were he to follow in his family traditions--to wolves for an army that, even someone with zero military sense can see, doesn't have a chance in hell of accomplishing his goals. He lived in this keep till he was nine, right? He knows it has a fleet of battleships in its port--the battleships we were shown from Catelyn. How does he think an army of cavalry can hope to challenge them? And even if they did, what then? Are they just going to sit on his doorstep protecting him from the very people who rejected his families rule by murdering them? Where are the people who raised these children after their mother died in childbirth? Why are they happy to see this power-blinded boy commit suicide and also doom his sister in the process? As far as I can tell this goes unanswered.

Then there's the other side. Right from the get-go we have the scene where Bran catches Cersei and Jaime in their incest. For the record I have no problem with incest, I actually find it an interesting theme, but seeing this scene here is like reading a murder mystery where you're shown the murderer commit the deed in the opening chapter. Knowing Jaime pushed Bran sucks all the suspense out of the first half of the book, because we're not putting the pieces together ourselves but observing Catelyn muddle through to learn what we already know. And why does it even happen?

This is an official meeting where the King is uniting his family with another wealthy noble's, and Jaime's tagged along for the ride--the heir to the second most powerful family in the country. Here we have three factions with three sets of guards, each of which must know that should something happen to any one of these powerful people then shit will hit the fan. So how does Cersei and Jaime manage to sneak off into a deserted tower for a shag without anyone noticing? I can get them slipping away for a brief discussion, but sex? These are supposedly the smart characters in the story. They must know that if their secret is found out they stand to lose everything. The stupid thing is that this is a plot twist that's only relevant 600 odd pages later, so why not learn it then in a natural fashion as the climax it should be?

And what about Catelyn. When we should have been getting introduced to King's Landing from the eyes of Eddard Stark of which it was about to become his prison, instead we're witnessing it from his wife who, quite frankly, has no purpose being down there. She's immediately picked up by her former admirer, who just so happens to be the one in a billion people who owned the dagger used in an assassination attempt on her comatosed son's life--an attempt that, as a devoted mother, she risked her own life in order to prevent. Yet after learning the dagger was in possession of one who's currently still in her country on some unexplained tourist trip to a border outpost that even the soldiers who work there don't want be, she's content to sit in a whorehouse before pleading her case to stay by her husband's side... What? Where's the mother gone?

Even the whorehouse falls apart for me. The dramatic scene of Eddard carefully treading across a near invisible cliff path because Littlefinger needs to keep it a secret. Isn't this a country where the King was mourning the loss of times when he could ride around drinking and whoring, a country where everyone knows one of it's lords has a bastard child that his wife is raising. Are the people really going to care that a man who is little more than a businessman owns a brothel? Do they not drink in this place? Won't the citizenry wonder why wealthy entrepreneurs are floating up dead on their docks with their pants around their ankles? This is what I analyse as a writer when looking at scenes for believability so that suspension of disbelief isn't broken.

As for Catelyn's journey back, she bumps into would-be assassin Tirion in an inn. She's undercover because she doesn't want to be recognised. He's there because he rejected an offer to stay at Winterfell so he could find a hooker. So which is it? Has Tirion travelled for days to discover a lady of the night, or has Catelyn stopped a mere hour from her keep despite not wanting to be seen by her people? Yet this gaping plot hole could have easily been avoided had Tirion just accepted Robb's offer and been put up in a bed near to Bran's room, only for a travel weary Catelyn to return home and bump into him. The sort of emotional explosion in that scene is surely a literary goldmine to explore.

So yea, this is what I see when reading books now. Trying to write has ruined the experience for sure. But maybe I'm just reading it all wrong. I am the amateur here after all. So if someone could take the time to help show me where that is I'd really, really appreciate it.

April 05, 2015, 04:40:26 AM