Author Topic: The Second King - 1550 words (Tough critiques are welcomed)  (Read 371 times)

Offline Aged Reader

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The Second King - 1550 words (Tough critiques are welcomed)
« on: November 16, 2017, 02:07:19 AM »
Gisele

These foolish lords, Gisele thought with mild irritation. She entered the room where her royal servants spoke in a hushed manner. The council rose at her presence, with Jonathan Foresworn being the first to speak.

"My Queen," he greeted, with a smile which would've swooned most women, "you look wonderful."

Gisele forced a smile. "I appreciate the kind words." She sat and watched everyone do the same. "So, tell me about these lords that are refusing to pay their taxes... I must say, I am rather shocked by this revelation."

The occupants of the table exchanged nervous glances. Farthest from Gisele was Lord Ossoff, who sat as lifeless as a corpse. She frowned as a servant poured wine into her cup. Over the past months, Ossoff had shared his displeasures for many of the laws Gisele had passed. Oftimes after a council, he would whisper criticisms into her ear. The constant pestering had taken its toll on her, if truth be told.

"Your Grace," muttered Lord Ossoff. "These laws that you have bestowed upon the realm are oppressive." He gripped his forehead as if to ward back a bulging vein. "They strip the lords of their say and rightful authority over their own people."

"Are those their words, or yours?" she asked with a point.

Ossoff repositioned himself. "Those are their words."

"As Treasurer, I would've expected you to solve this problem before it reached my ear." She exhaled. "In any case, I am sure you would sort out this little inconvenience, correct?"

"Fine."

Gisele felt her mouth twitched. "Beg a pardon?" She gripped both handles of her chair. There was a scream growing in the bowels of her belly.

Her councilors cleared their throats.

"Yes, Your Grace," he answered in a much lighter tone. He shook his cup, concentrated hard on the red vintage, before locking eyes with her. "I'll solve it before a war starts."

Gisele flared her nostrils. "Other news?" she called out.

Lily Tagari licked her lips, biting it before speaking.

Slim, gorgeous, and trustworthy. Lady Tagari wore a red dress, silky and visible, prepossession for men and women alike. The sun livened her bronzed skin and highlighted the blonde streaks running through her hair. Almost as beautiful as me, thought Gisele.

"The King of Nordstordom sends an envoy, bearing his daughter and her swords. He wishes to profess his loyalty to Your Grace, in hopes of striking a betrothal to your son."

"Ah, yes." Lady Tagari had informed her about this news weeks prior. "Tell the Stewart to furnish a room suitable for a princess. I want the child to become taking care of like my own babe." Gisele smiled as Lady Tagari jotted down words into her small booklet. "Did he bring gifts?"

"Many a gift. Rubies, sapphires, emeralds, onyxes, and a bounty of gold." She pursed her lips. "Such wonderful treasures for a queen of your magnitude, Your Grace."

The words caused Gisele to breathe proudly, her breasts rising high in the air. She was an excellent choice for Royal Chancellor. Dutiful, honest, and apolitical in the sense that she sought no future titles. She lives for her queen. Nothing less, nothing more. I wonder how she... Gisele's thoughts became interrupted by the useless sputtering of the Royal Priest.

"My queen," Mallon spoke. "The late-king Henry has already brokered a betrothal with the Emperor of the Old World. Neither gods nor men would forgive an annulment of such a holy act." He pressed his hands together as if he pleaded for his life. "I beg thee, send the child back to her kingdom, where she belongs. We shouldn't appear traitorous, especially when our relationship hangs together like tattered clothes. Send the girl away, or risk facing the wrath of gods and men."

"Was that a threat?!"

"Of course not, Your Grace. It was an honest warning, from one of your loyal councilors." Mallon spoke similarly to a grandfather. It bore an air of wisdom, yet subtle condescension, like a master teaching an overly eager pupil. It made Gisele furious.

"I appreciate your words of caution, Royal Priest." She took care of her words. "But, as you know, the princess is far too close to the capital to send back to her father. How would the greatest powers of the world see Lydia if we showed such rudeness to a guest? I fear we must accept her."

"Where is she now?" he pressed.

"I am unsure." Gisele felt herself redden. "Mayhaps, she rides to the capital as we speak. Or -"

"She's staying at Ironfall, Your Grace," cut Lady Tagari. "The castle of Lord Hamlet, a true friend of the crown."

"Of course, I must've forgotten," Gisele replied with sincerity.

The grey eyebrows of Mallon rose to his forehead, but his tongue remained cage behind the set of brown teeth. Gisele thanked the gods as the Royal Commander injected himself into the conversation.

"The Prince of Raggos has nothing to fear, Royal Priest. This is simply a meeting between two Kingdoms, in an attempt to mend broken relations. The queen values the loyalty and support of the men and women of Raggos. But she seeks to do what kings before her couldn't. The queen believes a stronger relationship with Nordstormdom is possible, and more importantly, desired." Steele cracked several of his knuckles. So keep your suspicion to yourself, better yet, toss it into the wind."

Gisele couldn't resist smiling. There were a small number of men who have challenged Commander Steele, and those who have found themselves buried underground. Gisele continued to share news.

"As you know, the Royal Justiciar is battling a profound sickness. She has chosen to remain confined to an isolated area, in hopes that the sickness never spread throughout the castle, or further beyond." Gisele pressed her hands together. "We all pray for her speedy recovery. Yet, we must fill her void with a suitable replacement. Thus, I have taken preparations in choosing a worthy successor, for lack of better words."

"Would the queen want our input?" Lord Ossoff spoke.

"Yes, she would," Gisele responded, "I want each of you to compile a list of suitable candidates." At those words, Steele dunked his quill into ink and began writing down names in a furious manner. Ossoff rubbed his greying goatee, narrowed his eyes, then raised his index as if he were a toddler. "Yes, Lord Ossoff."

"I nominate myself for the position, Your Grace."

Gisele muffled a laugh. "Has the treasury become too lax of a position, my lord?"

"Not at all. I sit behind a wooden desk from dusk to dawn, with books opened and stacks of papers covering every space of my office. The thrushes are my lone company, yet many of them have departed for the winter. To make matters worse, they have become replaced by violent crows, who caws and caws until the days' end. Those black demons never sleep, and often I fear they are calling my name. I can't... I can't think straight with those things around, Your Grace."

The queen almost laughed. "I can order archers to shoot them from the sky. I'm sure Commander Steel can find a couple marksmen."

"They'll come back." His face darkened. "I know crows."

"I'm sure you do, my lord. But, let's try my suggestion first. You are far too effective at your post to leave so abruptly."

"If they return..."

"Then the title of Justiciar is your," Gisele finished without laughing. Though, after your behavior today, those birds should be the least of your concerns.

Lord Ossoff beamed. "Thank you, my queen."

Commander Steele decided to speak after the table sat through a brief hiatus. "We are still experiencing slight unrests across the realm, Your Grace. From kingdom to kingdom, freedmen are mouthing about reparations. Apparently, removing their chains wasn't enough for them. They now think the better of themselves should become elevated to lordships." Commander Steele stifled a laugh. "In addition to this nonsense, they seek for their sons to become pages and squires. The entire notion is completely absurd if the truth must be spoken."

Mallon murmured his assent to those words. "These swine also preach their foreign religion to our people. They deceive the downtrodden and give false hope to those who have experienced sorrows. The very act boils the blood of our gods."

"Aye," Commander Steele agreed. "They wish to turn our great country into a replicate of their homeland. These lots are refusing to accept our cultures and traditions as their own. Instead, they harbor hatred for our ways of living and long for a day to supplant it all together. We must end this before the realm loses control over the matter."

Gisele quailed at Commander Steele's words. "What can be done?" she asked.

"We can ship these savages back into enslavement," answered Jonathan Foresworn. "King Henry only decreed their freedoms in the kingdoms of Lydia, but other countries can do as they please. Give me a month and I can organize a fleet to carry them back to their homeland."

"Can such an act be done within a month?

"No," Commander Steele replied. "A plan such as this would take at least half a year, and in many respects, much longer."

"So, what can be done?"

Mallon threw a hand in the air. "We can outlaw the worship of that demon these people serve. What's the fiend's name - I forget."

"Zachariah," Foresworn answered. "He walks among the living and performs​ many wonders." Mallon gave him an accusing look. "What? I hear stories of the man whenever I sail across the nine seas."

.... Thank you!

Offline Gyppo

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Re: The Second King - 1550 words (Tough critiques are welcomed)
« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2017, 05:21:26 AM »
Aged Reader...

I'm glad you asked for a tough critique, because some of this is going to sound pretty brutal.  But may I first ask if you are using voice recognition software, because that would explain some of the oddities?  But even so you should have looked through the work afterwards and spotted where it let you down.

I realise the courtly style of language goes with the setting, and what is presumably a fantasy type world, but it's no excuse for twisted sentences which make no sense.

I'll put the troublesome sections in italics and comment directly below each, indenting my comments to separate them.

=====

These foolish lords, Gisele thought with mild irritation. She entered the room where her royal servants spoke in a hushed manner. The council rose at her presence, with Jonathan Foresworn being the first to speak.

"My Queen," he greeted, with a smile which would've swooned most women, "you look wonderful."

   I have never seen swooned used this way.  As a word it belongs in this setting/world, but not used as a verb.

Gisele forced a smile. "I appreciate the kind words." She sat and watched everyone do the same. "So, tell me about these lords that are refusing to pay their taxes... I must say, I am rather shocked by this revelation."

   The lords, individually or collectively, are a who or a which, not a that.

The occupants of the table exchanged nervous glances. Farthest from Gisele was Lord Ossoff, who sat as lifeless as a corpse. She frowned as a servant poured wine into her cup. Over the past months, Ossoff had shared his displeasures for many of the laws Gisele had passed. Oftimes after a council, he would whisper criticisms into her ear. The constant pestering had taken its toll on her, if truth be told.

   Not needed. An example of words just tacked on to create/reinforce the courtly speech patterns.  But in this case she's thinking, not speaking, and you, as the writer, have already told us it's wearing her down.

"Your Grace," muttered Lord Ossoff. "These laws that you have bestowed upon the realm are oppressive." He gripped his forehead as if to ward back a bulging vein. "They strip the lords of their say and rightful authority over their own people."

"Are those their words, or yours?" she asked with a point.

   Pointedly would be better than with a point.

Ossoff repositioned himself. "Those are their words."

"As Treasurer, I would've expected you to solve this problem before it reached my ear." She exhaled. "In any case, I am sure you would sort out this little inconvenience, correct?"

   This whole sentence is strangely indecisive.  She's a Queen, so will instead of would rings more true to a royal order.  The added 'correct' just adds to the impression of indecisiveness.

Lily Tagari licked her lips, biting it before speaking.

   Lips are plural, it is singular.  Make up your mind.  You may think this is a nitpicking point, but it jars horribly when reading.  Like a misplaced change of tense it snatches the reader from the flow of the story.  Too many little slips like this create the kind of book which gets thrown across the room and never picked up again.  I kid you not.

Slim, gorgeous, and trustworthy. Lady Tagari wore a red dress, silky and visible, prepossession for men and women alike.

   Of course her dress is visible, so what are you trying to say here?  As for the rest of the sentence it makes no sense whatsoever.   This is one of the times which made me wonder whether you are using voice recognition software.  Is Lady Tagari perhaps bisexual, with a predisposition for both genders?  If she is this doesn't seem a particularly appropriate place to inform us, and if no then I doubt if I'm the only one who might wonder. 

 
"The King of Nordstordom sends an envoy, bearing his daughter and her swords. He wishes to profess his loyalty to Your Grace, in hopes of striking a betrothal to your son."

   I will not be the only reader who pictures the Envoy struggling under the weight of the daughter and a pile of swords.  He would have been accompanying or escorting, not carrying.  We writers really need to avoid unintended images like these.

"Ah, yes." Lady Tagari had informed her about this news weeks prior. "Tell the Stewart to furnish a room suitable for a princess. I want the child to become taking care of like my own babe." Gisele smiled as Lady Tagari jotted down words into her small booklet. "Did he bring gifts?"

   Steward?  And the sentence about the child is another mess.

   I'll stop here because I'm trying to help, not just flay you with criticisms.

   One last thought though, calling her Kingdom Lydia doesn't help  because as a reader I was expecting yet another character to turn up.

   Best wishes,

   Gyppo
« Last Edit: December 25, 2017, 03:38:47 PM by Gyppo »
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Jo Bannister

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Re: The Second King - 1550 words (Tough critiques are welcomed)
« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2017, 10:29:13 AM »
I'm afraid, AR, that Gyppo is absolutely right.  Reading this is like running an obstacle course.  It's a prime example of what writing looks like when the author is trying to create a style instead of just getting on and getting his story.

There may be some substance in your piece, but there was nothing to tempt me to dig deep enough to find it.

Stop writing like a "writer" and start telling stories like a story-teller.  A live audience would wander away to the burger-bar after a couple of paragraphs of this.  And a reader would put it down.


Offline hillwalker3000

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Re: The Second King - 1550 words (Tough critiques are welcomed)
« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2017, 12:17:16 PM »
Maybe you read the Classics and yearn for the days of yore. Maybe you're trying to recreate a sense of history and elegance through the use of circumlocution. But this is 2017, and your extract comes across as horribly pretentious. You don't speak like this, so I wonder why you chose to write as if you were using a quill and ink when it's obviously alien to your nature. It's as bad as wannabe poets trying to copy Shakespeare by writing sonnets packed full of archaic expressions and expecting to be taken seriously.

Gisele is mildly irritated by some lords who refuse to pay their taxes - in fact she's rather shocked. Bless her cotton socks, but why should we care about something of such little consequence? The entire piece is long-winded and tedious simply because there's nothing much happening. You don't invite us to participate with your characters or the story itself because it's so difficult to immerse ourselves in the setting. This means we become distracted and end up focussing on the finer detail, which doesn't bear scrutiny.

'Oftimes' - can you not see how ridiculous this sounds?

Lily Tagari licked her lips, biting it before speaking.
What exactly did she bite?
 
Slim, gorgeous, and trustworthy What a bizarre set of attributes to clump together?. Lady Tagari wore a red dress, silky and visible, ?? prepossession for prepossessing to? men and women alike. The sun livened her bronzed skin and highlighted the blonde streaks running through her hair. Almost as beautiful as me, thought Gisele.
I can't understand why you slipped such a detailed description of one character into the narrative at this particular point since it has no bearing on what precedes it or on what follows.

The words caused Gisele to breathe proudly, her breasts rising high in the air.
Really? I wish I could see them do this with my own eyes.  ::)

Overall, you've spent a lot of time and effort here but I can't imagine who would ever bother reading such dull fare. Most of the time you write well technically, but this is about as intriguing as a set of minutes from a parish council meeting.

Just one opinion, use or lose.

H3K

Offline Simple Things

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Re: The Second King - 1550 words (Tough critiques are welcomed)
« Reply #4 on: November 16, 2017, 03:49:03 PM »
Hi there :)

I think this needs to be developed further. I mean, not enough to stop and do it if the story is still in the works, but on the next draft I would.

If it is a completed novel, then it becomes harder to offer a working critique. 1500 words of 150,000 isn't much to go on. I can't really judge the writing because you are using an out-dated style of which you haven't master to a level of being smoothly spoken. So those little bits are standing out for themselves rather than for the story.

So what kind of advice can I give you. Keep writing. Even if reviews point out things, don't let that deter you. Stepping stones often get wet.

I choose this section to talk about. Nothing major, just something I hope helps:

Quote
Slim, gorgeous, and trustworthy. Lady Tagari wore a red dress, silky and visible, prepossession for men and women alike. The sun livened her bronzed skin and highlighted the blonde streaks running through her hair. Almost as beautiful as me, thought Gisele.

I have never in my life looked at someone and thought of them in this way. It may seem to you that it  tells the reader something, but it does not. It only describes; like ingredients on a pill bottle.

Does that mean it has to be deleted? No. I never like to delete initial ideas when a writer created the story. If they are there it is probably for good reason and it is only the writing that failed. Sometimes it is moved, sometimes the focus needs shifting, but I like to try and use what was there.

Quote
Slim, gorgeous, and trustworthy. Lady Tagari wore a red dress, silky and visible, prepossession for men and women alike. The sun livened her bronzed skin and highlighted the blonde streaks running through her hair. Almost as beautiful as me, thought Gisele.

Because this is simply an over-view observation, it has no emotions attached. Even the last statement about a comparison of beauty doesn't say how Gisele felt about that fact.

Gisele is the mc of this chapter. I want to know her inside out. I don't want the 'oh-someone-might-be-listening' point of view. I want the 'secret diary' the truth.

Did she envy Tagari's beauty? Did she envy the attention she had? Did she despise it? Did she find humour in how Tagari manipulated people with it? Was she consider a sister-at-arms? Someone she could trust.

Any one of those things could have been shown, or hinted at. Instead I had nothing. At best a 3rd person omniscient who doesn't share what they know.

Seems like a lot to take in; all these critiques, but take the time to read them a few times. Put them in a way that is understandable to you. Because you are the writer.

Best writing to you

Offline Vogel

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Re: The Second King - 1550 words (Tough critiques are welcomed)
« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2017, 09:06:09 AM »
I agree with the others. The writing seems very amateur and typical of new writers who haven't discovered their own style yet. Nothing wrong with that. We've all been there.

It's as if newer writers have an idea of what kind of writer they want to be and they try very hard to achieve that. I suggest instead that you think of what is important to you, and use your own personality and experiences and observations in life, to tell your own brand of story, if that makes sense.

I think Jo said it best. I think you're trying too hard. Keep in mind that it's your job to tell a story, most importantly.

The worst thing I think you can do as a writer is to confuse your readers. Remember to write clearly and keep things simple. Sharpen your images. Get to know your POV character and stay inside her head, revealing things that develop her story and her character. Her observations should reflect who she is.

I also found it hard to keep up with all the characters, and I didn't feel like I stayed within Giselle's POV.

Some of your phrases didn't really make a lot of sense to me. Like this: "Are those their words, or yours?" she asked with a point.

What do you mean by that? Can you be more specific?

I'll be honest, I didn't have the patience to try and decipher what they're even talking about, and who all these people are. The entire passage seemed very unfocused. I almost think you're trying to tackle an incredibly difficult genre to get right, even for seasoned writers, a genre that's been done to death and done again, and it seems to be inspired by your reading material, no doubt. If this is the type of story that you want to tell, then, by all means, tell it, and don't let me discourage you from doing it. But as H3K noted, it's as if you're trying to tell a story in a genre and style that you're not comfortable in yourself. A lot of us start off in novels or stories that don't suit our particular writing style, though we don't figure that out until we figure out our own voice and style, and that takes years of practice. So, keep practicing!

Read your dialogue aloud: I want the child to become taking care of like my own babe."

That makes no sense to me. Try to be specific about everything you say and write it so that the reader can imagine it clearly in their minds.

I also think that you're trying to stuff way more information than this scene can hold. Oppressive laws, then a princess that needs to be returned, and then unrest in the realm, some person's sickness, a foreign religion, some aggravating crows, etc. etc. etc. None of it seems to be connected and it's coming off as incredibly unfocused. It's like you're trying too hard to tick off the boxes of this particular fantasy genre's scene of holding court, instead of focusing on telling a story, propelling a plot and enriching your characters.

Figure out where you are in your story, what point that you've reached in your plot, and what information you need to reveal to propel the story forward, to deepen the plotlines and reveal interesting information about your important characters. I used to be really bad about trying to stuff too much information into a single scene. It takes practice to learn the fine balance. The most important thing is to remember that you're telling a story.



The words caused Gisele to breathe proudly, her breasts rising high in the air.
Really? I wish I could see them do this with my own eyes.  ::)


 :D Funny, funny.

Hope this helps. And don't let the negative feedback discourage you. Good luck to you and thanks for sharing.

Use or lose.
« Last Edit: November 18, 2017, 09:21:11 AM by Vogel »

Offline Kowboy

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Re: The Second King - 1550 words (Tough critiques are welcomed)
« Reply #6 on: December 25, 2017, 11:01:48 AM »
This has potential.