Reviews for The Dragons Curse
jadedraconian chapter 1 . 5/31/2008
I haven't been on Fictonpress for a while so you can just imagine my surprise when I find that during my absence you have started yet another wonderful story. I haven't gotten the chance to actually read the chapter yet, but I'm sure that it will live up to your others. Either way, it has brightened my day and gives me something to look forward to later. And you keep your naughty stories at Mediaminer? Hm, must go search for them. By the way, have you tried AFF? In my opinion their site navigation and search function is easier to use than MM. Anyways, once I actually get the chance to read, I'll be sure to leave a real review. Have a nice day _
vanillasmoke chapter 1 . 5/21/2008
I liked this, but I really hope there's a lot more coming. It seems like you've set up a story of considerable length and detail. I particularly liked the way you added little details about life at the Inn. The little touches like the 'in-use' markers on the outhouses really make your world come alive. I hope I'm not guessing wrong about the length of this. I'm looking forward to reading more. Thanks!
Lccorp2 chapter 1 . 5/16/2008
Harr.

-You have no hook to draw readers in. While you do slightly better than most and give the reader a character to latch onto and empathise with right from the start, you do nothing with him and dump a big block of exposition about dragons right at the start through an "as you know, Bob" conversation.

Newsflash: Not everyone is as enamoured as you with your conworld. You have given me no reason to care about your happy little world, so why should I? Exposition can come later as and when it's appropriate and when I as the reader have been invested in the characters.

My suggestion is that you begin with action, dialogue-and keep it there. Give the characters a crisis, which although may not be the central focus of the story, still serves to draw the reader in. You have their inn burning down (ugh.) Start the story as the fire starts.

I do not want a paragraph or two of action or dialogue, then endless paragraphs of description/exposition. Say your story begins this way:

"Edmund Lehore leaned on the railing and stared down at the men drinking ale in the common room.

“Is that really a dragon egg, Grandfather?” he asked excitedly. (get rid of the speech tags. They interrupt the flow, and it should be discernable from the speech itself how the characters are feeling. Well, if it's WELL-WRITTEN. I've read mock-worthy blunders like "'Sorry,' Brom apologised.") The round, grayish-brown object looked like a rock, mottled with green and red lichen."

I want to know what the hell the characters are doing, please. I do not want endless descriptions of the room they're standing in, athe history of the dragons, what the characters' relationships are, and all that jazz. Drop in little bits of description and exposition as you go along, instead of piling them all at once. Nothing like that to bring the action to a screeching halt.

-"Edmund blinked up...did not interfere."

I don't care. And show, don't tell me all this. Why should I believe you? Because you're the author? To use but one overdone example, I've seen more than enough characters with "intelligent eyes" or some variant thereof that went on to act like total idiots.

Tell neutral qualities and show them if you want to. Show moral ones. I don’t mind it when the author introduces me to a character like so: “A tall, brown-eyed man with a broadsword over his shoulder and an easy manner of moving walked into the inn.” It’s certainly possible to show those qualities as well, like having the character duck to avoid the too-low doorway, but even those mentions usually get a bit that explains why the character had to duck. That’s okay. Height, weight, what a character looks like, what they’re wearing, what they’re carrying, are often easier to tell than show. You mention it, you get it out of the way, you go on.

Moral qualities, those qualities we’re supposed to judge the character on or like her for, are something I prefer shown. I hate, hate, hate the two most common methods of telling them: the omniscient narrator who says something like, “Though she did not know it, Elena had a manner of speaking that revealed wisdom beyond her years,” and the overheard conversation between two characters where they just happen to praise the protagonist’s courage, wisdom, loyalty, goodness, et bloody cetera. The first comes across as a refusal to commit to demonstrating the quality; the author just wants me to think Elena is wise, when in practice she may be an airhead. The second has the problems of the first, plus that old chestnut that most overheard conversations are not going to be relevant to the person hearing them, nor good information about that person if they are, plus the rendering of minor or secondary characters as cheerleaders for the protagonist and no more than that.

Want me to look at your character? I have no problem with telling in that case. Want me to like her? You’ve got an even chance, but without showing, it feels like the author attempting to stack the deck, and I’m much more likely to go the other way out of sheer contrariness. (Authorial shoving is the number one reason I put books down).

Let your characters introduce themselves. Too often, even when authors do pick a viewpoint character right from the start, there are stretches where that viewpoint character vanishes into obscurity while the author rhapsodizes on about the other characters’ personalities, history, and eye colors. Just like extensive description in general, this is given no consideration for whether the viewpoint character would actually notice the things being described. Rare is the author who also takes into account just how much of that description the reader is likely to remember.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I know Sixsense the bard better when she speaks and snaps at Alatha the apprentice for carrying her case wrong, and her stupid dog for not guiding her steps properly, and does the world know how hard it is to be blind, and where is her tea?

Let dialogue and interaction do more to define your characters than the dumping on people’s heads. As well, guide your viewpoint character’s observations to what would most naturally intrigue him. If he’s known this woman for a long time, he’s unlikely to “realize again how pretty Rhaela looked, with her hair the color of ripe corn.” On the other hand, he might notice if Rhaela passes through a beam of sunlight and her hair flashes.

"“Yes, Father.” Edmund hurried...of fresh baked bread."

Not only do you keep on jumping in and out of third-person limited and omniscient, this could have been much more easily and naturally done by actually having him do the work, greet the people, and so forth without you as the author intruding on every single subject and adding tags. Showing his experience is good. Telling is passable in this instance. But you both show and tell, an utter redundancy.

-Sigh. Get rid of the dark cloak and hood, please. Ringwraith-style may be a classic, but it's also a disgustingly cheap trick to shove the reader into believing the character in question is EVIL.

Avoid the token signals that are supposed to act as flashing neon signs of EVIL. These include, but are not limited to: cackling, gloating, wearing all or only black, torturing people just for the hell of it, telling the enemy everything right before they kill him, "testing" the enemy in such a way that it gives him an opportunity to escape, and basically a bunch of other things on the Evil Overlord List. Unless you actually are writing a parody, they're flat-out silly by this point, and at best will smack of plot contrivance and interrupt the smooth flow of your story.

Of course, going to the opposite extreme and having the good guys wear black can also grind down a reader's patience. Try to create unique villains instead. Hey, you do it for the heroes, right? If you know a hero's history from beginning to end, and have taken time to understand his personality, why not do the same for a villain? Too often, the chapters written from a villain's point of view concentrate on how evil he is or are just there as a "fly on the wall" look at what the Dark is doing, while the good characters' chapters concentrate on them as people. To be absolutely corny about it: Villains are people, too.

I'd say more, but lunch hour is over.
sylenctone chapter 1 . 5/15/2008
A very intriguing start, I'm certainly hooked already. I wonder if that fire that burned down the inn hardened the egg, or perhaps even started the hatching process. And why do I have the sinking feeling that the man who burned down the inn will be back to search for the egg in the rubble. I bet he'll be unhappy to find that the place was not abandoned. It will be harder for him to skulk about and find it. I wonder if Edmund forgot about the egg in all the excitement of the place burning down. Oh there is so much potential here and I'm sure you'll take full advantage of it! I'm looking forward to watching this one unfold!

Thank you for writing!

As always,

Your loyal (and only slightly rabid) fangirl,

jess
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