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Messages - LisaElle

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[NOV 2014] Joker Month / Re: [Nov 2014] - joker month - Submission Thread
« on: November 30, 2014, 09:43:52 PM »
Here we go! I went with the Abandoned Places theme from October, the Cavern City image.

This one's called The Ghost King's Choice and it's 1499 words.

Spoiler for Hiden:
Lestara inched through the doorway of the dim throne room and lifted her torch. Patches of light glowed on the stone floor, cast by the setting sun, taking on the shape of holes in the partially collapsed ceiling. Dripping water echoed all around her and the cries of exotic birds reminded her of life in the world outside.

"Hello?" She called. "Xanaden, are you here?"

Lestara stopped in a patch of light and waited. Despite the barrage of spirit waves that had assaulted her, she could sense where he was as soon as she'd arrived. The throne room had been her goal from that moment on. No other ghost would suffice.

A strong, cold force encircled her throat from behind and pulled her out of the light. A gasp lodged in her windpipe. She dropped her torch and it rolled into a puddle of rain water. Its light died with an irritable hiss.

"So you've finally come for us, ghost killer," he growled. "It offends me to see the crest of a purger. And yet, I knew you would come one day. What took you so long?"

Lestara dug her fingers into the ice-cold arm pressed to her neck. They met with little resistance and sank to the knuckles into something that wasn't flesh. She battled a sudden urge to vomit. What a great first impression that would make. "What can I say?" She answered with a reedy laugh. "I like to think I'm worth the wait." She tried turning her head to see who held her. The darkness revealed nothing. "The jungle is entombing you. There's a thick layer of moss over everything. Carasha Dae could have been hidden anywhere along the foothills of Zatun's Peak. I'm lucky to have found it at all."

The pressure left her throat and the the ghost king stood before her, the tip of a machete at her throat. The sight of him was disorienting; light from the ceiling shone through him, revealing a form that was semi-opaque. She could just about see the rest of the room through him, as if she was squinting through a pane of smoked glass. "Cavern City has always been difficult to find," he said. "Less so when it was thriving but even when I lived I valued our isolation. I thought it would protect from invasion. Then came the rumours of hidden gold in our caverns. That's when the Xenion filth marched out to destroy us."

The ghost king sneered, a proud curl of his lip that suited his station. He was younger than she'd imagined. Xanaden was a man just shy of his prime when he was murdered by the Xenions. His hair was clipped close to his scalp, in the fashion of the sunlands, his embroidered tunic a modest choice for his role. "And now you are here with your fire and spells to banish what's left of us. But you know what happened, don't you? That's why you've come."

Lestara ignored the blade, her green eyes fixed on his. "Yes. I've read all about the sad fate of Carasha Dae but that's nothing compared to being here. It's beautiful, even as it's falling apart. I can only imagine how stunning it was before."

The ghost king frowned. "So this is finally the end, is it? You've taken a liking to my city or someone else has paid you to. You'll cleanse Carasha Dae of its spirits then collect a fat purse while another foreign king marches his soliders through my gates. Well let me remind you of something first. There is no gold in the caverns of Zatun's Peak. That was proven by the Xenions fifty years ago when they abandoned this place empty handed. But not before they tore my city apart and slaughtered all of my people trying to find it."

Lestara's eyes darted to the ghost's machete. Did it have enough substance to harm her? She'd rather not find out. "I am sorry for you and what happened here," she said. "But that's not why I've come. I don't care about the gold and no one has sent me. I have a proposition, if you'll hear it."

Xanaden wrestled with indecision then finally lowered his blade. "Walk with me, purger. There's something I want to show you first."


Mist had crept over the walls of Carasha Dae, reducing the light of sunset to a golden haze. Xanaden led Lestara down stone steps to the lower tiers of the city, aiming for the main thoroughfare that zig-zagged down the mountain slope. They crossed a rope bridge beside an aqueduct whose mighty flow had burst its walls, a cascade of water spilling through the breach. It flooded the lower streets with rivers that crashed over each other, rushing on to the city gates at the base of the mountain. Xanaden avoided the treacherous routes, keeping to streets more comfortable for a human to pass. Lestara was thankful for it.

A turn around a corner brought them onto the main street, a wide route pockmarked from horse's hooves. Here another river flowed, one that stole Lestara's breath. The dead of Carasha Dae were all around her. Traders shouted in ghostly echoes, laughing, gossiping and hawking their wares. Groups of citizens bustled down the street, jostling for room as if personal space was still a requirement. Dog spirits even wrestled in the gutter, fighting over scraps thrown by laughing children. Despite the smiling faces, the air was oppressive with the weight of their loss.

"Tell me this, purger," Xanaden whispered, sounding haunted by the sight. "Why don't my people know me?" The question pained him; she could hear that too. "Why can't they see and speak to me like you do?"

"Because they're not like you," she murmured back. "You're a special ghost. A very rare one." Lestara looked at him, speaking with hushed excitement. "I mean, just think of it. You remember everything. You can talk to purgers. You even have enough substance to touch us if you need to." She gestured to the crowd. "Most ghosts are like this, useless imprints invisible to all but the purgers, disrupting their surrounding energy. You think I'm here to sweep them all away but that doesn't matter to me as much as you think. I came here because I heard that you were something more. I thought if I could just find you..."

Xanaden shot Lestara a dark look. "What do you want?"

"I want you to come to Dharamez with me," Lestara shot back. "It's another city two week's journey from here. I'll be holding council with the other purgers. They're eager to meet you. They want to talk about an experiment that could bring you back to life."

"No," the ghost king snapped. "My place is here with my people."

"With ghosts that don't even know you exist? They're not people, Xanaden. They're only echoes of something that was once here. They'll never be here again, no matter how much you want it."

"They may not see me but I'm still their king. I have a duty to protect them. What if another purger finds the city and destroys them while I'm gone?"

Lestara reached into her travel pouch. "I thought that might be a sticking point so I'm going to do you a favour." The purger lifted her hand and showed him what was inside. "Purger fire is made with these sparks. If I ignite your city's torches with these, it will seem like a purger is at work. None of my kind will enter while they're shining. They can remain lit as long as you like." Lestara blew the sparks from her hand. They flared and rushed forward, splitting like atoms and racing to ignite every torch with their white radiance.

"What are you doing?" The ghost king drew his blade. "I won't let you purge them!"

Lestara held up her hands. "I'm not! I only want it to appear that way to other purgers. I promise you, this will protect them." She eyed the machete pointedly. "So long as I'm alive that is."

Xanaden frowned at Lestara as she lowered her hands. The ghost king clearly struggled with the notion of trusting her.

"Shall we go?"

Xanaden didn't answer. Lestara turned for the city gates.

"Purger!"

"Yes?"

Xanaden slid the machete back into its sheath, stalling as he considered his words. "I will make a trade with you," he finally said. "A promise for a promise. When all of this is done, whether I am left as man or ghost, if I find that you've lied to me about what happened here, I promise you I'll destroy you for it."

Lestara stared at Xanaden's face, the steely resolve in his eyes. His words felt like a cold finger running down her spine.

“Fair enough,” she answered with a daring smile she didn't feel.

The purger turned for the city gates, knowing that the ghost king would follow her.

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Thanks for your feedback Elfy! I found it a tough challenge to fit all the sins into the story while still making sure I had enough room for the story to actually happen. Lust was there alright, he was the older man that Gluttony puts her arm around, I just didn't get a chance to describe him much. I loved your theory about the setting being Hell. I just wrote it as a kooky band of trouble makers in generic fantasy land, though maybe I should pretend otherwise. ;) I think you're right about Greed too, at times I felt that Senwyn was a bit forced and I couldn't figure out why. I don't think she had enough to begin with to be greedy in the traditional way. I was trying to show her potential to fill the role more than anything else. Like a fledgling Greed. Or it could be that she's more fitting as Pride, hence Pride's concern at the end of the story!

I'm not sure what way you'd like me to approach your own critique, so since you mainly dealt with story for mine, that's what I'll look at here.

Firstly I must applaud you on the idea of demons wearing nothing but ties because they're evil and uncomfortable inventions. I loved that image. I think Gluttony was a great sin to write about, it's not as popular as some of the others so it made me curious to read about it. While I really enjoyed the whole idea of the sins needing to meet their performance goals, I'd have to agree with yourself and Meddler about Price's reaction to Gluttony. He was strangely quick to stray from his ideals so that took me out of the story a bit. If Greed was that good at changing people then I'd have to wonder why he wasn't meeting his targets? I think this could be improved by tweaking Price's personality, like maybe he's crazy successful but really bored and not making enough money for his liking. That would make it more believable and easier for Greed to get his way in the end. It was a funny story though, I enjoyed it. :)

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[NOV 2014] Joker Month / Re: [Nov 2014] - joker month - Discussion Thread
« on: November 02, 2014, 11:05:50 PM »
Haha! That's brilliant :) And just as I was feeling all frustrated about my story not coming together for last month. I don't know how many times I started it! Now I get a second chance to start a bit earlier instead of cramming it all into the last week. :P I also owe a critique or two, for the deadly sins, not forgetting those.

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Yay well done AlmightyZeal :D

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I would as always be delighted to have my piece critiqued and return the favour for anyone else's. Any takers? :)

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I'm liking the cavern city image too M. G. Boronha, I'll be curious to see what you do with it if you get the time. :)

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Brilliant! Love this theme and those pictures, now let's see if I can do it justice. :) Anybody have any ideas yet?

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Writers' Corner / Re: Little Point of View problem
« on: September 24, 2014, 09:37:49 PM »
Hmmm that's a tricky one! Maybe it would help to ask yourself these questions: what is the story that I want to tell and what's the best way to tell it? I have a sense that getting really fancy with view points just for the sake of it wouldn't be very helpful to a reader. Like if you're wondering whether you should narrate just the protagonist's movements or a gang of other characters as well, I say let the story tell you whether that's necessary or not. The other characters must have stuff significant to the plot happening as well that progresses the story from scene to scene. If they don't, is it really necessary to show what they're doing? Or would just narrating your protagonist's movements be a clearer way of telling your story? Not sure how helpful that was but it's an interesting topic to ponder!

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You're welcome AzWingsFan, hope you'll try another of the themes sometime :)

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I'll see if I can give you some feedback AzWingsFan :) Sorry it's coming so late, I'm just back from a couple weeks holiday. I think your piece of writing definitely stuck to the theme and that a torturer's apprentice is a great idea for a story. I felt that it read more like a character bio than a short story though, especially the first paragraph. This seemed like the kind of thing that would be written to allow a writer to get into a character in preparation to write about them, if that makes sense? In a finished story a reader will generally learn about a character through its actions and conversations with others, rather than the writer telling us all about them in the opening paragraph. This is usually called "info dumping" (if that's not too harsh a term) and it's opposite would be called "show don't tell" which I've learned is a better habit to get into. For example:

Quote
His parents although working long hours gave Zel whatever time they could.

Instead of making this statement (which calls attention to yourself, speaking as the writer, rather than the character Zel) you could maybe describe a memory of Zel's that educates the reader about his relationship with his family. This would paint a better picture and keep your reader engaged with the story. Something like:

Quote
Zel recalled the weary face of his mother as she smiled at him, returning from a day of hard but honest work. Zel hated that smile.

This might not fit with your vision but hopefully it explains what I'm suggesting? It shows that Zel's parents work hard and that he's loved but that he doesn't like his family, possibly because he thinks they're better than he is. Learning to write this way is really important, it's what will make your story come to life for you and your reader.

When it comes to the short story format, I'd also suggest focusing on one special challenge that your character has to face, whether they succeed or fail, and how that changes them in the end. I learned this lately too and I found it really helps me. Hopefully it'll be a useful pointer here as well :)

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Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
« on: September 07, 2014, 12:24:33 AM »
"On those cloudy days, Robert Neville was never sure when sunset came, and sometimes they were in the streets before he could get back."

From I Am Legend by Richard Matheson. Nice and sinister :)

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It's all good Scarlet :D And Ryan I hadn't thought about expanding on it. Now that you mention it though it could be fun to do another theme at some stage based on the same characters. I'll certainly think about it.

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Hi ScarletBea, thanks for the feedback. I do realize it was just one opinion but I agreed those sentences could be shortened a bit. Each to their own really :) I can understand why sentences that are too short would be off putting as well. I tend to like them in scenes with high tension, otherwise they do come across as a bit strange.

As for what this thread should be used for, I think that anyone should be free to critique in whatever way occurs to them. Like for me, if I'm giving feedback, it depends on what area I think could use the most attention in a story to make it stronger. That said I could remark on anything from theme to character to grammar or whatever else. I think there's a lesson in anything constructive that someone else has to say about your work, no matter what angle they approach it from.

But really when it comes to critique I just love the idea of writers feeling comfortable enough to discuss their work with each other and share advice, that's what's most important to me. I've always found it to be such an encouraging way to learn. :D

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Thanks so much Ryan! I appreciate all the effort. That all made a lot of sense to me, I'd agree with most everything you said, some of the sentences were too long. I like the picky critiques too, they're always helpful :)

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Oh yes! I keep forgetting to add that. @graphicality is my twitter.

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