Reviews for The Secret Steps
xEutopiax chapter 2 . 4/1/2008

First thing that I can say after looking at this chapter is "Authentic Dialog" I liked how they talk, it seemed real, not always polite but hey, thats reality. LoL

Though one thing I ask is why the parts are divided up in such ways. The first is quite long, the second medium, and the third pretty small. Maybe you should even it out and make them the same length.

Did I tell you I like your title? "The Secret Steps" sounds mysterious...LoL

Once again, Good Work!

-Kaiyako K.
xEutopiax chapter 1 . 4/1/2008

Good chapter to start with! I enjoyed it

I'm not quite sure why, but I liked the quote you had on top.

Your descriptions of characters a commendable, I can picture them. Yet you show not tell, which I can't do like at all xP

The italics really set that particular text out, and without overusing it.

-Good Work!

Kaiyako K.
Esther Jade chapter 2 . 4/1/2008
While the writing in this chapter is still good, I find some of the sentences too involved. There are so many disparate clauses packed into some sentences that some of the chapter is quite awkward to read. Also, in the second part the verbs really bothered me, especially in the first few paragraphs. As a result, I really struggled to get into that section.

I'm getting more and more of a feel for Dav but I'm not mad about how you present Teo. All the ruminations Dav seem to have about Teo at the beginning of the chapter feel a bit contrived. And they don't really make me feel as if I know Teo any better. I suppose they show the relationship between the two for later in the chapter but, yeah, wasn't so mad about that section.

The amount of dialogue didn't bother me. In fact, sometimes I thought the dialogue had a bit too much accompanying commentary and I couldn't really get into the flow of the conversation. I think we would learn more about Dav and Teo's relationship if their conversation were less constrained by comments and, maybe, a bit longer.

Overall, I found the first part of the first part (Dav and Teo's conversation) and the second section (with the children) a bit difficult to get into. I think the first was because of the commentary on the dialogue and the second because of the verbs. The chapter as a whole was well-written but difficult to get into, in my opinion. The violence didn't really bother me because I hadn't really connected to the characters (I'm not torn between thinking it's the writing style or the heat in my office ;).

Minor points:

However, when Teodor turned around to study him, he knew that he probably had sounded somber indeed, because rather than mocking him about what Dav intended to do, Teodor gazed at him solemnly and even set down the piece of fabric, orange from its bath in solution. - This sentence feels very long to me.

He wondered what it looked like, and made a note to slip off to the tiring-rooms to get a moment to gaze at his shoulder in the looking-glass. - I'm not sure about "gaze" as a word choice here.

Dav had no reason to disbelieve him. - I'm not sure about "disbelieve" as a word choice here.

Teodor worked harder in the shop than he looked like he might. - This sentence feels a bit awkward to me.

Someone had called a medic’s - Is that "'s" supposed to be there?

The pale man moved his drink alertly - I'm not quite sure what the "alertly" is supposed to convey about the movement.

The armor the soldiers wear is leather - This feels odd to me.

The captain’s voice is phonily kind. - I don't like "phonily" as a word choice here.
KnittingKneedle chapter 1 . 4/1/2008
Hi, review game!

Before I start, I must admit that I am slightly biased against fantasy pieces, especially with the choice of langauge and stetting that many authors chose- it doesn't seem to flow as organically as other pieces and I think that fantasy authors struggle to have their own narrative voice heard over thousands of identical authors.

That said- I enjoyed your peice thoroughly, and whilst the dialouge was at times stiff it was so to reflect characters and you achieved fluid plot exposition through speech- which was a brilliant case of showing but not telling

You were specifically worried about the character of Dav- though I thought you made him, I wouldn't say sympathetic, but multi tiered and believable, which is quite a feat (I belive) in a fantasy novel.

I'm fantasy bashing again aren't I? I'll stop that now, :)

You also asked where I thought the plot was going...I honestly couldn't say, and now I want to know! This doesn't strike me as a cliched story at all- I may have to re-read the chapter to find a suitably placed chekhov's gun.

Watch the language doesn't get too theasuraus happy in places, and I spotted more than a few said-bookisms, but apart from that...great job!
Distilledfx chapter 1 . 3/31/2008
Review Game!

Writing: I enjoyed reading this at the end, but at the beginning it was really hard to get into. I'm not sure if your writing got more relaxed or I just got used to it, but missing punctuation (particularly in the first part) and the sentence structures, often made it hard to understand what was being said. In the second part it eased up a lot, and then in the next two it was very natural and flowing.

Also in the first part, you set the scene nicely, with Dav's POV. But you switch to his recount of the play and it drags the story on. While this is important to the plot, the first part of the story is probably not the best place to put this. It explains his motivations, but it could have been put so much simpler.

Enjoyment: When I first looked at the genre, and then read the first few paragraphs, I thought "Not another fantasy/adventure story." It didn't really give me much reason to read until the second part, where you start this really interesting game of wits, where Dav and the Contessa are testing each other. This is really entertaining to read. Also you build the tension really well with the switching viewpoints, which kept me reading, knowing that soon Dav would be on his "mission." Mixed with the more relaxed writing style, this really got me into a groove where reading the story was very enjoyable.

Characters: Very well done here, instead of telling us what people are like, you let them judge each other, and then challenge those judgments with their behaviour. This tells us much more about the characters than descriptions could and shows that you are really comfortable with your characters. A few things stuck out though: there were no descriptions of the Contessa that I can remember. I pictured her as a bitter old lady, sitting in a pink room full of cushions and perfume, but I couldn't know if this is what you meant. Also a little more backstory (in the third section I think would be the best) into Dav, which might talk about how old he is, why he is a thief, how long he's been a thief etc.

Plot: Like I said before, from the genre, I was sure I wouldn't like it. But you set up this dark slummy town, and then show us this lady who is darker than the towns deepest alley. Again, the game between Dav and the Contessa is really entertaining, and something that I hope isn't over too soon. You carefully step around the plan, not telling us any details except that he is going to rob the Duce's and steal the princess(?). The part about Teo adds to the mystery and tension, leading me to believe that he is going to be put in a kill or be killed situation a little sooner than he'd like. Also the end where Eugen attacks her, I didn't see that coming, even as you described the action, I didn't expect it until you said "his hand shot out for her throat". Great twist there.

Overall, this story was hard to get into, but once I got into the groove it was a breeze. While it is sort of long for a first chapter, by splitting it up it is a lot more enjoyable. The switching POV works really well (if you want to build tension here that is) and shows us the other character instead of the one who we're riding with. Good work, just try to keep the writing a little smoother.
Guest chapter 1 . 3/31/2008
Review game!

I think you convey your characters very well through your narrative. I was so impressed by your ability to write from a specific point-of-view. It's something I'm still struggling with and I thought you pulled it off really well. To answer your question, I did find Dav to be the more sympathethic POV character. The Contessa came across as a bit spiteful.

On the whole, I thought your writing style worked well and suited the context and characters. However, occasionally, it came across as overly verbose and some of your word use doesn't seem quite right. For example, you use "toleration" where I think the correct noun is "tolerance".

The plot seems interesting. As far as guessing goes, there sounds like there's an impending love story between Dav and the Duce's daughter. It feels like the story is going to turn into a battle of wills and guile between the two characters you've introduced in this chapter.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this chapter. It was well-written, had a lot of character and plenty to draw the reader in. Keep writing!

Minor points:

If she distrusted him for even a moment, he would be bound for the jail, if he gave the Contessa Profis enough opportunity to send him there. - This sentence has two "if" clauses.

she had warmed up to him once she realized exactly how good he actually was at his trade. - I think it would sound better if you took the "up" out.
LafilledeShakespeare chapter 1 . 3/30/2008
That was wonderful, I believe. Very good.

It was a bit too convoluted but if that's the style you're on for, you're on the right track. There's a bit too many pauses in the dialogue, but the thoughts and opinions you put in fill up for that. It's hard writing it in this matter, as very few writers [i.e. Jane Austen] can master this style of writing; making the story just flow with wide gaps in dialogue is very, very difficult, but I think yours is quite good.

I think you should a bit more description not only to your characters but to your surroundings as well. Put a bit a more detail to what's around, so it's easy for people to get the feel of the dirty politics hidden in lavish riches. For instance, decribe the room in a way it shows a hint of how the characters feel. Don't say what's on, show what's on.

I haven't quite gotten the real essence of your people yet, though it is fairly unlikely in the first chapter. I'm assuming they're complex characters, and I am thrilled about where you would take this advantage.

The plot overall, is very intriguing. I enjoyed it. I'm ineterested where this is going.