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Unofficial Writing Group

Tags: #Writing  #Writing Group  #Writing Circle 
  • Member
    December 11, 2018

    Yeah I think it's a good format then.

  • Member
    December 15, 2018

    Hallo everyone! Part 1 of GHAHR-TOK has been reformatted! Also, some info on the name: in ESO, the Alliance factions each have two Elder Scrolls as a valuable resource. The Ebonheart Pact has the Scroll of CHIM (which may be referring to apotheosis, but I see it more as "royalty"), and the Scroll of GHARTOK. I took the name GHARTOK, added an extra H and a dash, and I had a cool story name. However! Looking at some more obscure bts of the Lore, it turns out GHARTOK actually does mean something. From the words of Michael Kirkblade (a dude responsible for a lot of the wierder bits of lore, and also the acid trip that is C0DA):


    "Hand" + "weapon"

    A GHARTOK is your weapon hand, or a hand that's made for weapons, or a hand that IS a weapon


    Interestingly, this pans out pretty well with my plans for the series. So hooray for that!

  • Member
    December 17, 2018

    @Spotted: Will finish reading/review the next bits of LotS by Wed.


    @Tene: Appreciate the new format.

  • Member
    December 20, 2018

    Chapter 8: In Search of Truth

    Scene 1: Palace of Kings

    When this scene starts I was confused by the narrative blocking of this. The last of Kjeld, he was just entering the apothecary, the White Phial and now he’s in the Palace of Kings? This gets more confusing later which I’ll explain when I get there.


    ‘Kjeld held the bottle firmly, but he took care not to crack the glass or snap the neck. Occasionally, he had a problem grasping delicate things without chipping or cracking them; when stressed, his strength tended to get away from him’


    Kind of telly for me.


    ‘The guard didn’t knock on the metal door—too thick—but opened it a crack, risking wrath and ruin if the wizard proved to be in a foul mood.’


    Could be a grammar issue with ‘opened it a crack’ but the key thing I want to point out is the POV. Is this the guard being concerned or Kjeld?


    ‘Kjeld supplied quietly, raising the bottle level with the guard’s eyes for proof.’



    ‘That got the wizard’s attention. Tools were abandoned, papers were cast aside and left to settle as a tall, black, shapeless figure strode to the door and thrust it open without ceremony.’


    This again seems like a POV error to me. It makes me ask: Who/Where is the camera centered on?


    ‘Every story or rumor of wizards in black robes and casting spells seemed to be true, in the case of this man’


    Heh. Liked this line. Also generally appreciated the description of Wuunferth.


    ‘“Ah yes, the extract, good.”

    “Poisonous, of course, but it has its uses.”

    “I suppose you want something for your trouble? Here.”’


    Okay. This will veer into the realm of personal pet peeves and nitpicks but I generally don’t like word for word rewritten quotes from the game. Other than the sense of ‘more could be done with the new medium’, these quotes can feel check list-y, like the only reason it has to be in the story is because it’s in the game. A problem of this is that this can make the dialogue tonally inconsistent with the story’s style. For example, the following lines:


    ‘“If this is another request about getting a ‘bigger warhammer’, then you’re wasting your time!

    “Then if you can convince me this isn’t a job for some middling conjurer who doesn’t mind getting their time wasted, I’ll see what I can do”

    “Oengul War-Anvil works as well as he always have. I don’t need a smith.”’


    Are structured differently and portrays Wuunferth as more cantankerous than mysterious. But the point I’m trying to make is that when making an adaptation, the work itself has to adapt. I digress.


    ‘you’re better off pestering Nurelion at the White Phial.”


    Kjeld raised his eyebrows. “Uh, no, that’s not why I’m here. And Nurelion couldn’t help me.”


    The White Phial had yielded no fruit, but a woman in the marketplace, overhearing his search for a man or woman of magic, had directed him back to the Palace of Kings. On one condition—that he bring the wizard the nightshade extract she had grown and brewed at the wizard’s request.’


    The placement of this bit gives me the impression that there was originally a White Phial scene but it was cut for whatever reason. In place we get an off-hand remark that yes, Kjeld has done the White Phial stuff to resolve the plot and it didn’t give him the results he wanted. After that, he listened to some strange woman in the market to give the wizard some poison. I think this is a missed opportunity for a character moment for Kjeld in addition to narrative blocking stuff.

    ‘“I’m a werebear.”’


    So the cat’s out of the bag. I honestly had forgotten about this aspect of Kjeld’s character; I was actually more invested in the traitor and the war plotline at this point.


    So overall, this is an exposition scene but I found it to drag the pace down because of how telly it can get. The information gained from this scene is a straightforward checklist of what our protagonist (Kjeld) should do but it doesn’t lend much to developing his character.


    Scene 2: Candlehearth Hall

    This scene makes Scene 1 more confusing because Scene 2 starts directly after the scene in the previous chapter which gives the narrative blocking a sense of immediacy.


    ‘“This was before Jarl Ulfric was the Jarl, obviously, and he was imprisoned by the Thalmor—you do—”


    “Aye, we’ve met!”


    Pictured Reidar answering with furious nodding.


    Also continuing from the last review, good dialogue flow and the info here isn’t too heavy in volume or density and that let’s me sink in on where the story might be going.


    I find it especially interesting in that the seeming objective of Scene 1 and Scene 2 are on the opposite ends of the Plot vs Character debate, intentional or not. Scene 1 focuses on the elements of the magic of this story and well, general directions of the plot of the werebear. Now Scene 2 focuses more on the internal conflict of Reidar; ‘Da is not a traitor!’ and what does that mean to him.


    Scene 3: Traitor’s Post

    I generally found this scene to move a little fast for me or rather, the dialogue doesn’t let me linger and hang onto the character’s words.


    ‘“I need to go to Morthal, to see a Khajiit about my—”


    “I asked around about Da.” Reidar didn’t seem to have heard him, his voice rising with the incline as if his lungs and his legs were interconnected. “Everyone thinks he killed Jarl Hoag Stormcloak—Ulfric’s father. They think that’s why he ran away to Solstheim!”’


    The ‘I asked around about Da.’ Is a pretty good line for me but Reidar or rather Kjeld isn’t letting that sink in for him. Yes, he follows with ‘What?’ but I think that’s on the late side of things to give that bomb really have a kick.


    ‘The path curved (still dotted with Reidar’s previous footprints) around to the front of the house, the ground leveling. Reidar marched right up to the porch (the steps miraculously unbroken) and spread out his arms without ceremony, like an agitated priest before an altar he didn’t like.’


    Don’t like the bracketed footnotes, they kill the pacing for me.


    ‘“This is our house.”


    “Our house.” What did he mean our house? Kjeld gazed, scrutinizing the ramshackle abode, able to see over Reidar’s shoulder to the bone-chillingly cold hearthroom inside. “This is where…?”’


    Dialogue feels mechanical to me. Again, the story doesn’t let the characters sink in what they just heard. Also I think ‘Our House.’ Sounds odd in that Kjeld confirms something he doesn’t know.


    ‘It was colder than he’d expected, the blustery gusts intensifying the sense of vacancy. It was hard, at first, to imagine anyone living here; hard to imagine that these busted old walls had once held a family.’


    I found this description to be telly.


    ‘Uh oh. He smelled a well-intentioned, poorly-executed plan in the making.’


    I don’t like the ‘Uh oh’ bit, it makes the 3rd person limited narrator get too invested into the story.


    Not sure why but I find Kjeld relationship with Reidar, his brother to be on the cold end of things. Perhaps it’s the dialogue or pacing but I don’t feel the warmth between them and Kjeld let him go a little too easy. But they’re Nords at heart and I’m not a Nord so chalk it up to culture clash.

  • Member
    January 2, 2019

    I'll get on Chap 9 by Friday or so.

  • Member
    January 2, 2019

    Delta said:

    I'll get on Chap 9 by Friday or so.

    Take your time! It's the holiday season! I am writing out my critique of SotF of the first three chapters. ^^ I'd like to get that posted by the weekend.

    I don't know if you heard but I finished Frost Moon! It's a bit of a hot mess but I'm proud of what I've accomplished! I'm looking forward to reviewing your critiques.

  • Member
    January 3, 2019

    @Spotted: The deadlines are really more for me. I'm used to working with a resource constraint.

  • Member
    January 6, 2019

    Chapter 9: Diverging Paths

    Scene 1: Traitor’s Post

    Short scene and I read it as more of a continuation of Chapter 8 but the main thing I would note is the POV: who is it on? For the most part, I assume it’s viewed through Kjeld but there’s something about the following passages that makes me think it’s on Reidar.

    ‘Reidar was accepting it in stride, that grin not about to disappear for anything short of tragedy.’’

    “Nothing~” Reidar and his ego shared a chortle’

    ‘As if he might spot the court wizard from here, Reidar glanced through one of the broken slats, a frost wind blowing his hair out of his eyes as he gazed along the docks of Windhelm. He spared Kjeld a backward glance. “I’ll bet Da has more friends here than we know.”’


    Also, odd beats:


    ‘Reidar leaned against the fireplace mantel, flames throwing his shadows on the wall like splashes of ink.


    “So what’s this about Morthal?” He straightened. “Are you leaving right now?”


    “Not yet. Anyways, there’s a Khajiit—a cat-man—there that can help me.”
    The plan sounded foolish when he voiced it aloud, but that couldn’t be helped. Desperation demanded he chase the trail of breadcrumbs to whatever end he could.’


    I assume the first line of dialogue is Reidar’s because the previous beat is Reidar. The next line made me do a quick take when it mentioned ‘he voiced it aloud’ and that make me re-read it with Kjeld’s voice instead.


    Nit-pick: Tanning takes months to do, not an evening and even skinning them takes some time.


    Scene 2: Brandy-Mug Farm

    Opening paragraphs is one big tell of ‘Here’s an interesting fact and plot convenience. Let’s move on.’


    ‘While he tore the weeds from the frozen earth with bearish efficiency’


    Okay, borderline nit-pick but I hope that the story does not abuse the bear puns because it will sound like a children’s cartoon and make it harder for me to take seriously. On a less nit-pick note, I don’t quite get the ‘scene’ of this well, scene. Going by what has been established of Windhelm and Eastmarch, the realm is a cold and snow had just fallen. So, based on that there’s a farm that’s growing well enough under a blanket of snow.


    I personally would like more for the logistics in my worldbuilding for it to feel alive. Things like how do they keep the snow away or what do they do to deal with the permafrost or even the mud from the winter.


    Bolfrida feels very throwaway for me.


    Scene 3: Eastmarch forest/Palace of Kings

    Refer to nit-pick on tanning/skinning.


    Most of the dialogue in this chapter is well, word-for-word game dialogue and to reiterate, I find a bit of a shame because it doesn’t let the new medium flex it’s muscles.


    Overall this is the exposition chapter and it's as strong plot/character wise as the previous chapter. It doesn't give me too much of the world but I'll have to read on to see how much of this ties in with the rest of the Legend.

  • Member
    January 8, 2019

    Song of the Faithful Critique
    Chapters 1-3


    Just a Formality

    Fantastic opening line. I know I left a comment saying as much but it bears repeating. Not sure if this was intentional, but without the ToC explaining that this is a Vigilants of Stendarr story, the (unnamed) protagonist’s ‘brothers and sisters’ could be interpreted in the literal sense. This first scene is very, very short. There were a couple of lines that read as clunky and a simple bit of proofreading could probably fix:

    a cut would be an embarrassment but an even bigger embarrassment would be a cut from with this dull edge.

    Just the way she liked it - just as how she would of have prefered it.

    I’m assuming the ending is meant to segue into the next chapter? It isn’t as strong as the opening.

    Vigilants of Stendarr

    Part I

    Had to get myself used to this version of Morthal. It wasn’t clear in the TOC what time period this was in, other than ‘after the Oblivion Crisis”. Descriptions are good. Gets a bit “telly” in places, but I’ve always found it a necessary component of storytelling (here’s an article in defense of telling

    Payed should be changed to paid, unless you’re going for an old timey feel. (Two instances of this have cropped up so far)

    ‘Hail, Vigilants of Stendarr and I, Jurgen, son of Harkon welcome you to Morthal,’ said the friendlier guard.

    Saying he’s the friendlier guard feels redundant. The lines above this already established him as the reasonable one.

    The dialogue up to this point was fine, but the lengthier conversations between Falrielle and the guard feels bogged down. Sentences feel long.

    ‘Not so loud and so freely. City’s near fallen into a hysteria because of the attacks and in my experience it won’t take more than a word to set the panic off but yes you are correct.’

    Second sentence is very long. Reading it out loud, I find myself putting in a comma or two just to create a few natural pauses.

    Mention of King Istlod grounds it in a specific time period (though I don’t know if the casual reader would know this was Torygg’s father), setting it before the White-Gold Concordat. Dates would be really helpful, but ultimately up to you.

    ‘We were helpless to help our Jarl and the only thing we could do was wait and it felt like a long winter before she fainted.’

    Sentence reads awkwardly. Helpless and help being so close together reads a little funny.

    Part II

    ‘The plump Nord man and his age showed with his balding head.’


    There are a couple grammatical errors and things that could be picked up with a bit of proofreading in this section, but I’m happy to report that this section flowed smoother than the first.

    In terms of character, I found Falrielle to be so-so. She has a good dynamic with her two companions. I particularly like the balance of personalities (though a bit predictable with Sven). What caught my attention was Falrielle’s mysterious illness and/or memories. I’m very curious about her past. That moved her straight out of so-so for me.

    Great ending. I’d even consider making Falrielle’s final words the last line of this chapter. It has a nice punch to it.

    Intrigued by this plot, and by Morthal’s surprisingly developed city. Is this based on existing lore or just some creative liberties being taken?

    Quick question! Judging by your use of single quotation marks instead of double, are you a UK-based writer?


    Vigilants of Stendarr

    Part III

    Loved the surprise of Falrielle’s appearance. What I thought was just a case of information being left out in the first few chapters was actually deliberate. Is she a Bosmer with albinism, or does she have Snow Elf blood thrown in? Very curious!

    I have very little critiques on this chapter. A very good one and the dialogue felt solid.

    Part IV

    ‘Uh, Mentor. What is Aetherius?’ Sven scratched his head and blinked in confusion.

    Sven’s actions feel redundant. Scratching his head already conveys confusion.

    ‘To put it simply, we mages can do what we is by channelling the energy from Aetherius.’

    Gideon’s use of ‘we is’, is that an error or just the way he speaks? I was confused by this.

    ‘Correct,’ said the mage. ‘However these hunters were, they did their research, I’ll give them that but that is as far as my respect goes. From the bits and pieces recovered by the Jarl’s men, they had silver on them and get this: garlic – garlands of garlic. The vampires must of have smelled them a mile away.’

    A little confused by this passage. However should be whoever?

    Overall, very good. The first Vigilants chapter felt like a warm-up, and it’s in this one that you really hit your stride or got comfortable with the story. :) May not be the case, just my impression from the first three chapters.



     Disclaimer: I am NOT an expert on Grammar or story craft, so please take my critiques with a grain of salt. It is never meant to be a personal attack, and if anything comes off as such, please let me know. Really enjoying the story so far, it feels like a 'prequel' to what happens in Morthal for my own story, so that's cool. Maybe there will be crossover potential in the future, if my writing doesn't bring down the quality of yours. xD




  • Member
    January 8, 2019

    @Spotted: Thanks for taking the time to read and write a review. Also there is a little quirk on VoS but I won't discuss it until after you finish that short.