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Thread: Workshop: Crux

  1. #1
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    Rayleigh's Avatar

    Rayleigh Aston
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    Workshop: Crux

    Name of Completed Thread: Crux
    Name of Authors: Sage
    Type of Thread: Quest
    Thread Length: 10 Posts
    Feedback Rewards: (Post Length of Thread/10) * ((EXP Needed to Level)*0.05) EXP
    Date Closed: May 10, 2017

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  2. #2
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    Breaker's Avatar

    Joshua Breaker Cronen
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    Hey Sage, thanks for choosing The Writers' Workshop! I enjoyed reading Crux, it was a light and humorous piece of character development with some Althanas lore woven in for good measure. Without too much ado, let's move on to the rubric.


    Story: I felt like the strongest element of this story was its ending, which is quite a feat. Personally I find writing the end of a story is usually the hardest part to get "right", as you want to tie up the threads of the plot in a knot clever enough to leave the reader wanting to unravel it. I felt like you accomplished that well; the way Victor forgot to give Sage the book and then examined the boy's spell left me wondering what would happen next in the relationship between the two. You also did a good job of setting up your next adventure by having Sage abandoned in the middle of nowhere. The middle of the story was a little weaker, while still demonstrating a solid foundation. You interwove the characters' histories well with events from Althanas lore, and kept things moving at a decent clip.

    The part of this story that I think could have required the most work is the beginning. While you did a good job of situating the reader and providing exposition, there wasn't a really decisive hook that compelled me to keep reading. Adding a bit more weight to the emotion behind Sage's quest might have helped, or maybe a little more explanation of the difficulties he underwent up until that point. You had all the necessary plot points there, but it didn't quite come together in a way that drew me in. That developed as the story wore on, but in order to have a really strong beginning a story should start with something that immediately grabs the reader's interest.

    Setting: The setting was generally fairly well described; I could for the most part envision what Sage was seeing, and you did some great work with the thoughtful details regarding the interior of Victor's tower. I also really enjoyed the way you tied in various Althanas regions, and did so appropriately with current events such as the Raiearan Restoration. You could have taken this even further if you had really extolled Victor's age and vast knowledge; maybe you didn't want to play him as a know-it-all, but one missed opportunity I noted was that the wizard could have been spouting fun facts about the regions they visited.

    The best suggestion I can make for something to work on is your incorporation of all fives senses. With the exception of feeling the desert heat, I was never really situated in Sage's shoes beyond what he was seeing. Other things he might have noticed would include the different smells of the various regions, the taste of the tea, and any ethereal sensations that might have arisen from being surrounded by such powerful magic. As a general rule of thumb, try to use at least two senses any time you are describing the setting, and change it up; don't rely too heavily on sight and hearing. Smell and touch are two of the senses that can best bring a setting to life.

    Pacing: This thread moved at a fairly regular, unhurried pace. It became a little muddled at times when you switched characters, and in particular on one occasion when you timeskipped from downstairs in the tower to up in the kitchen. Be really carefully with transitional scenes like that, and your use of various forms of past tense (I'm no expert by any means). I also don't think that your use of "..." to break up time in post 2 was really necessary, that part flowed fairly well on its own. Overall the pacing was pretty good, but unambitious. I think you could have used a few more timeskips effectively in this thread, in order to get your characters in place for the dialogue-heavy scenes that make up the lion's share of the prose. If you're going to keep everything consistently paced, that's a good goal. But if you're going to employ timeskips, you may as well use them to their fullest, just give an extra editing pass to these parts.


    Communication: This thread was fairly driven by dialogue, and a lot of the exposition, explanation, and character development took place through communication. I thought you did a pretty good job of this overall. Sage and Victor each had a somewhat definitive way of talking, which stayed more or less consistent throughout the thread. I did catch a few Earth idioms sneaking through, and I would suggest replacing these with original Althanas idioms. Considering how creative you were in this thread, I think you could create some great ones. Beyond that, I recommend using your dialogue more. I think the opening dialogue between Sage and the driver would have hooked me if there had been some conflict there. Maybe an argument over payment, or maybe the driver doesn't want to abandon his passenger in the middle of nowhere, and needs to be convinced. Continue to delve into the motivations that move your characters' dialogue choices, and you'll continue to improve here.

    Action: I felt like this was one of the weaker areas of your writing, and I should be able to provide some suitable tips for improvement. First of all, I'd recommend coupling your dialogue with action more often. There were a couple of times I noted where your dialogue felt really bare, kind of like it was just floating in space with nothing attaching it to the flow of the story. People usually do things before/while/after they speak, and including these kinds of seemingly unimportant actions can smooth out the scene and also provide opportunities to describe your character and interact with the setting around them.

    On a related note, try to drive your descriptions with actions. These can be actions from a character, or actions from another source such as the wind making something move, the sun bouncing off something, insects and animals etc. Using action to influence your setting description will make it come more alive, and also make action and setting more cohesive. For example, when you described the big oak in the first post, you could have had wind teasing the upper branches, a squirrel scampering along the trunk, or something to add both detail and movement to an otherwise fairly static scene.

    Persona: I felt like Sage's persona really shone through here, and for that reason I would encourage you to stick with third person limited rather than omniscient going forward (but I'll talk about that more in Technique). I got some great insight into Sage's thought processes, goals, and desires throughout this thread. You accomplished this with a variety of internal and external dialogue, as well as thoughts and opinions reflected through narration. Sage has a very strong and unique perspective on the world, and that's the main reason why I would like to see you limit your narration to his perspective; it really adds to the richness of the reader's experience when it all comes from the same source. That is up to you though, just food for thought.


    Technique: You employ an educated writing style which is, unfortunately, marred by a number of consistent errors which I'll delve into in Mechanics. Regarding the use of various third-person perspectives, I do think that third person limited really suits your character/writing style the best. I was comfortable with the transition where you switched to Victor's perspective for an entire post, whereas I was fairly jarred on the occasion where you just gave a couple of his internal thoughts at the end of a post which had otherwise been limited to Sage. If you do opt for third person omniscient, try to take advantage of that style more. Provide information known by each of the characters, and none of them. I admit I am unpracticed in that style so the advice I can give there is limited.

    I think you are ready to start adding some more literary devices in to spice up your writing. I did notice a metaphor here or there, but nothing that really stood out or created a vivid word picture. This doesn't mean go crazy and write purple prose with a simile in every other sentence. But, when you have a particular action or piece of scenery that you'd like to give the reader a "snapshot" of, consider employing a unique and creative device. This will take some trial and error to get right, but the basis for it is creativity, and you have got plenty of that.

    Mechanics: I noticed three distinct things that you seem to have trouble with. I'll cover them briefly here, and you can check my rough notes at the bottom for further examples of each.

    Punctuation at the end of dialogue sentences! There are so many instances of this in your writing that I stopped notating them. Put simply, anytime that you have a sentence ending with quotation marks, you need some other punctuation there, usually a period or comma. Here's one example from Crux:

    “I had best go and take a look around, just to be sure”

    This should read: “I had best go and take a look around, just to be sure.” Without the period the reader doesn't know whether they should have a full stop or a half stop, and when you make this error consistently it can really hinder clarity and flow.

    Missing Apostrophes! Any time you are giving possession of something to a person or thing, you use an apostrophe to signify that possession. Here's an example from the thread:

    ... taking the reins and spurring the wagons horse into motion.

    This should read: taking the reins and spurring the wagon's horse into motion.

    Without the apostrophe, "wagons" is plural and non-possessive. I may have screwed up this explanation as again, I am not an expert on grammar. Here's a link that may prove more helpful than my random explanation.

    Capitalization! You sir, are a chronic over-capitalizer. As a general rule of thumb, unless something is a proper name, it generally doesn't need a capital. So, for example, the word "magic" never needs a capital letter, unless it is part of a name like Victor's Magic Emporium. As with apostrophes, I am no capitalization expert, but I do know you are using that shift key a bit too often.

    There are a number of other less frequent errors such as homonym confusion, and using "to" in place of "too". I strongly, strongly recommend that you proofread each post at least twice (once before posting it, once as an entire thread), out loud to yourself. Hearing your own voice say the words that you read will often make errors you otherwise might miss become quite glaring. Check my rough notes at the bottom for more examples of these errors, and feel free to contact me if you need additional assistance.

    Clarity: I feel like I've written you a novel already, and the important information for this chapter is contained within previous chapters. Working out your mechanical issues will solve 80-90% of your clarity issues. Beyond that you really just need to make your characters' actions a bit more decisive and omnipresent, and you'll be laughing at this category. Overall your writing is straightforward and basic in a good way, carrying the reader's attention without dropping it. Maintain the same strong foundation of basic principles while adding in more advanced literary techniques for flavor, and your writing will become very strong indeed.

    Wildcard: I really enjoyed getting to experience Sage's adventure through his eyes, and I hope you'll continue to submit threads to the workshop!

    [top]My rough notes

    Post 1: No need for "seemed", just say "the frown deepened."
    Consistently missing punctuation at the end of dialogue sentences.
    -"Depsite my misgivings."
    -"I had best go and take a look around, just to be sure."
    Not sure what "other angle people" means, wondering if this will be addressed later.
    "spurring the wagons horse" = "spurring the wagon's horse" (missing apostrophe)
    Said "path" three times in two sentenctes. Try substituting a word like trail, or even better, describing something else that Sage might notice.
    "of cause" = "of course"
    "until you was" = "until you were"
    "Chace" = "chase"

    Post 2: You kind of made it seem like there was a door in the previous post, so it seemed somewhat odd that there wasn't one.
    Still missing punctuation after dialogue: "Cute."
    The run of dialogue from "Hello" to "so can we hurry this up!", while humorous, could have been more effective with interspersed with a little action.
    Way to familiar = Way too familiar
    Be careful with your paragraph spacing such as with "Got you".

    Post 3: The word "Magic" probably should have been italicized as an internal thought.
    Knick knacks = knick knacks (no capital needed)
    Again, watch your paragraphing between miscommunication. and "Study hard..."
    Again, watch unecessary capitalization with "Magic theory", and paragraphing following.

    Post 4: Good opener with the steam, although mixing it with the previous action of being ushered upstairs muddied it smewhat.
    towers kitchen = tower's kitchen.
    wears = wares
    "also connected with the history of his hometown too" - you don't need both "also" and "too"
    Careful of word repetition within the same/adjacent sentences.
    Providing the wizard's internal thought at the end of the post was jarring, as you had used third person limited up to that point.
    No capital necessary on "Incantations" or "Runes"

    Post 6: No capital for "Viable" or "Succubus"

    Post 7: No capital for "Foyer".
    towers perception = tower's perception
    "Was this you're doing?" = "Was this your doing?"
    No capital for "Mana" or "It"
    fasilsafe's = failsafes

    Post 9: language so ancient that had no tongue = language so ancient it had not tongue
    manor = manner
    baited breath = bated breath
    towers doors = tower's doors
    more about magic then I do = more about magic than I do

    Post 10: No capital necessary for "Concludes"
    wondered = wandered
    Ainsworth's = Ainsworths
    elders reach = elder's reach
    of cause = of course
    wizards apprentice = wizard's apprentice
    ... They fell to him as prey to bluefin
    for the Jya's warriors knew not how to swim...

    I wrote a book! ~ Most Suave Character 2010

  3. #3
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    jdd2035's Avatar

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    Hey there sage lets get started shall we?


    Storytelling: (10 Points) Solo's are a trick it's literally a trick if you are not careful they can just dwindle into a large wall of words bog the pacing and just make a readers eyes gloss over. You didn't do this so good start all around. On the other side of the solo coin is the that it's all about the character development. You did this well. Good job.

    Setting: (10 Points) I loved the way you introduced the tower. Your use of perception spells to slowly bring it into view was a pretty sweet move. I think something like that would be used by a movie director like Peter Jackson or maybe Guillermo Del Toro it's a good technique to use it brings the setting out in stages letting the reader absorb things slowly.

    Pacing: (10 Points) The pacing is a sprint. Holy cow ten posts and it's done. your posts were long enough for any reader to understand what is going on while being short enough to hold a readers interest. I like this don't get me wrong I like reading novels in fact my favorite series consists of 20 1/2 books but sometimes I like a quick juant through another world. Good job yo.


    Communication: (10 Points) You convey what's going on quite well. Both of your internal and external dialogue was used well. Now here is where I kind of start sounding like a broken record because every one here is a better writer than me and use both internal and external dialogue well and I like to mention it.

    Action: (10 Points) At level two your character is just starting to get strong enough to do "holy cow look at that!" kind of things. But wait! There's more! Low level battles can be ridiculously epic! Just instead of a lot of god demolishing attacks like what you see in Immortals you see the "How the hell am I going to survive this" gritty digging epicness out of something like Kong: Skull Island. This is my way of saying your action was good.

    Persona: (10 Points) Solos are nothing but persona! Come on for ten posts there was nothing but Sage doing what sage does best. I really liked reading about Sage's adventure. You depicted Sages character as he was presented in your character sheet then expanded on him as you went. Solos are great for this kind of character exploration.


    Mechanics: (10 Points) rugahatha raga raga huga english!

    Clarity: (10 Points) You were really clear! Homophones are my bane waist, waste? There, they're, their, two, too, to! That being said you as far as I can tell don't have this problem. I understood what your character was doing, where he was, and what his motivations were with out looking in a dictionary. That's fantastic.

    Technique: (10 Points) Here I go again being a broken record. But technique and mechanics are not my strong suit. That being said you pulled every thing together in such a way to make a very entertaining and fun thread to read. The third person POV was nice making the read real easy on my mind like I was the audience instead of the character.

    Wildcard: Dragon Dragon Rock the Dragon!

  4. #4
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    Flames of Hyperion's Avatar

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    Hello! Thank you for choosing the workshop and for giving me a chance to comment on your story! Breaker's given you some great advice already, so I'll try to emphasise the points that I agree with and to build on others.


    Story: May I first applaud you on one of the sweetest stories I've read on Althanas in some time. Dare I say that I detect in it a dose of very British magic - the sense of wonder inherent in a Harry Potter or a Doctor Who? From the outset you're very clear about what story you're writing, and your ending is very strong. I repeat what Breaker wrote above - you got it 'right', by tying up the plot but giving tantalising hints of what is to come.

    Admittedly, the thread took some time to get going in the first posts. I did appreciate the puzzle in post two and the way you displayed Sage's logical thought processes by working his way through it. Some of the transitions were jarring, including the way you punctuated them in-post, and the one post written from Victor's viewpoint felt out of place to me. But I think you managed the majority of the story - the interview between master and prospective apprentice - very well.

    Background: Two key strengths in particular stand out to me here. The first is the depth of the system of magic you've chosen for Sage, and the logical way in which you presented it as you walked your characters through their interview. The second is how you wove various Althanas regions and events into your story. You also have a good sense of your setting as a backdrop.

    Where I think you can improve, thus, is in actually interacting with your setting. This will help with characterisation and action elements of your story as well - have your character breathe, taste, smell, and listen to what's going on around him, not just use his eyes. This might be a way to expand your system of magic even further - how do Victor's spells feel to Sage, and vice versa? Do the former's taste of musty tomes, and the latter's linger in the back of the nose with barely-contained static? If you can work this out, and learn how to present it in your stories as character actions and quirks rather than as static descriptions, then you'll have taken your setting to the next level.

    Characters: I appreciate how you delegated the necessary exposition to your characters, rather than dumping it on the reader as a textual description. This also allowed you to explore them via what they knew and did - for example, giving Sage the chance to work his way through Victor's puzzles and questions really helped to establish him in my mind. This strength is probably the main reason I felt it was so jarring when you switched to Victor's viewpoint for the one post - up till then, and from then on, we really got inside Sage's mind, which meant that the brief trip into Victor's left me feeling disoriented at best.

    What I feel that you're lacking is in getting your characters to physically interact with one another and with the setting. Again, I fall back to what Breaker's already written above: the best way to do this is to try to drive your descriptions with actions, including within dialogue. One suggestion I might make that he hasn't specifically already made is to consider one or two character-defining quirks for Sage and, more likely, for Victor.

    Technique: This was by far the weakest element of your tale, and unfortunately it detracted a lot from the overall experience of reading through your writing. Once again, Breaker has already done a great job of highlighting the primary mechanical issues - I would emphasise that dialogue punctuation in particular, given the way you drove your thread with the interaction between Victor and Sage, was *very* distracting. I would also add inconsistent and poor paragraph formatting to the list - the eyes of the reader rely heavily on these cues while they're immersed in your work, and mistakes / inconsistencies here are extremely jarring.

    Your strong foundation in literary style is evident, and the fact that you didn't over-populate your prose with advanced techniques contributed a lot to clarity where your mechanics failed you. That said, I would very much agree with Breaker that, once you've cleared up your mechanics via some intensive proofreading, you should look at weaving in more devices to help bring your writing to life. You've already begun to do this, for example when you punctuated Sage's explanation of spells with specific anecdotes of successes and failures, and I would love to see you apply that creativity elsewhere as well.


    In conclusion, I enjoyed Crux as a light but by no means frivolous read. You presented Sage's knowledge and thoughts very well, and bounced him off Victor in such a way that I was left smiling at how they emerged from their interactions. Add a good grasp of Althanian background and a uniquely logical system underlying your arcane powers, and I'm left in awe by how you've managed to craft such a sweetly creative story. Anybody can work on their mechanics and their technique, but not everybody has that little touch of magic that can make even the most basic of tales such a joy to read. I'm glad to say that I saw it in what I read today.

    I hope that some of my comments above can be of use in your future writing!


    Post 1:
    Your first paragraph should draw me in immediately, but instead it's bloated with repetitive statements. I'm afraid that your dialogue punctuation needs a lot of work, and your use of quotation marks around italics for thoughts threw me as well. Certain phrases and literary choices - "angle people", repeated use of 'path', the paragraph beginning with "Perception spells", the large gap before "Where is the door?" - confused me. Despite the above, a serviceable introduction with decent use of setting.

    Post 2:
    Your description of the setting relies heavily on 'there were' statements - I would suggest finding a more interactive way of presenting the information. In general I appreciate the time you took in solving the puzzle of how to get Sage inside the tower, and giving us insight into the character at the same time.

    Post 3:
    The small things - punctuation, run-on sentences, random capitalisation, paragraphing - start to take their toll here on the clarity of your story. It's difficult to read when you're constantly having to double back on yourself to make sure that you're correctly parsing the text!

    Post 4:
    I like how you explore everyday magic - the barriers, perception spells, enchantments etc. that would make up the majority of a wizard's time in a fantasy society - without losing sight of the destructive nature of the power. It's an aspect of an arcane society that's often lost in epic tales. I also appreciate how the apprenticeship exam is conducted somewhat like an Oxbridge interview!

    Post 5:
    The Oxbridge interview analogy continues to hold. You have a great grasp of how you want magic to work in your continuity, and you present it in a natural flow that's a pleasure to read. Mechanics hurts again, somewhat, but the practical examples are humourous and serve to exemplify the technical explanations, well done.

    Post 6:
    The perspective change from Sage to Victor is unexpected - I'm uncertain as to what purpose it serves in the grand scheme of the thread. Would you have been better served by continuing to present the conversation from Sage's point of view? That said, Sage's one spell being an illumination cantrip is an awesome piece of characterisation (and Victor's internal comment that he expected a fireball mirrored my own).

    Post 7:
    And then the tower goes full-on Tardis. Again, I very much enjoy the magical theory that underlies the various fantastical elements you introduce in your story.

    Post 8:
    Adding a touch of file... rather, arcane permissions. Sage's wonder at how he 'was looking at years and years of history' is a brilliant climax to the thread, and one that shows you don't need to write violent action for a memorable story.

    Post 9:
    I neglected to mention it when you travelled to Fallien, but alluding to the Raiaeran restoration effort really does ground your story in Althanas and its timeline. Kudos!

    Post 10:
    A heartwarming epilogue. Victor neglecting to give the spellbook to Sage was a nice touch, but then his examining the 'simple' light spell and admiring its construction was a good way to prop up your character at the end without making him seem boastful or showy. Another great example of characterisation.
    -Level 10-

    You made me laugh, you make me smile
    For you I will always go the extra mile
    I hope that the day will come when I can banish this pain
    I just hope that one day I will see you again

  5. #5
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    FennWenn's Avatar

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    Coming up with something after everyone else is intimidating, but here are words! May they be helpful ones.

    Setting - As someone who like taking time into fleshing out environmental details, yours was fairly decent. Nothing feels overly embellished or there for no reason. The idea of the teleporting tower was also pretty awesome. Even better was that we got a peek into how it works, with all the magic specifics of the hard-to-find door and the windows that could only be seen from the inside, and the rune-powered teleportation itself! Pretty awesome if you ask me. On the other hand, pretty much everything you described was in sight as opposed to the other senses. It felt a bit incomplete. How did the tea taste? What did Victor’s voice sound like? Did the tower smell like dry paper or did it have that faint old-people-smell clinging to it? It’d also be neat if the descriptionaries could go along with action rather than simply being there to be seen.
    Pacing - It was a short thread at only ten posts, but the story was in no rush to finish itself. Pacing is one of those things I think I can get a decent feel for, but struggle executing with myself. Your story seemed to do a good job with it for me!
    Intertwining - Made up my own category. So, it’s pretty eat when current events connect with past ones or backstory. Just want to note that this happened a bit in your thread, and I quite liked it.

    Characters: I can’t deny, I like Sage a lot (and not just because I adore long hair)! It’s fun following him as he puzzles things out, such as figuring out how to find the tower’s door in the second post. I have trouble pinpointing an exact why, but I mostly find him endearing. He shall recieve all the hugs- er, I mean, good job, keep doing whatever you’re doing here.

    Victor has a pretty interesting dynamic with Sage. It wasn’t an instant “sure, I’ll take you on as my student!” that I’ve seen so often in amatuer writing. I liked that Victor was reluctant to take on an apprentice, and that Sage had to work at convincing him to do so. I am looking forward to seeing what directions this apprenticeship goes!

    Mechanics - Let’s get the grammarstuff out of the way first. I had a bit of difficulty reading some of your dialogue due to its formatting. You missed spoken at the end of each spoken sentence, which messed with the flow of the piece, though you did add in question marks. That helped a little! There were also some places that would benefit from reworking the sentence structure, such as perhaps splitting sentences in two or addin in comas. I’m sure everyone else has pointed these things out by now, so I guess that's all I need to say about that.
    Clarity - I’d say your style of writing is very easy for me to follow along with once you get past the mechanical errors. In particular, I like your use of actions, your verb choice, and the instances when you wove motion into the dialogue. Much more interesting to have a character do things as they talk than simply stand there and speak, I’d say! If you could do that a bit more often, that’d be lovely. There were a couple of details that felt missing -- for instance, I wasn’t sure what the driver in the first post was driving -- but the story didn’t really suffer for it. I also caught a few places where something said seemed more like something Earth-y than Althanas-y, if that makes sense? That was a bit odd!

    I liked the title. I noticed when you titledropped it in the first post. That sort of thing always scores a few points, <3
    "I’m funny, so they let me live." - Skippy's List

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  6. #6
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    Dissinger's Avatar

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    Thread Name: Crux
    Mood: Lethargic
    Music: A Better Beginning - Mass Effect: Andromeda OST



    Storytelling:6 - Crux is the story of a boy becoming an apprentice. While the premise holds interest, my issue is that it seems like everything is done on assumptions. This in turn causes me to wonder how things will turn to the future, and while a good way to lead into something, the story seems a little flat due to the lack of a true challenge.

    Setting: 4 - With such an interesting tower you leave much to be desired in our backdrop. The tower itself should be the focal point of such an endeavour. The reader often has to fill in many of the blanks your descriptions drop, and that is lazy writing. Not that you’re lazy, you’re trying, that's what this workshop signifies, but saying kitchen and leaving it at that is not good setting. Show me a kitchen, don’t tell me what it is.

    Pacing: 7 - Slightly rushed at times, it does however remain at a constant pace. The pacing is done well, but this felt spartan. Very barebones.

    Communication: 5 - The conversations were for the most point low key. I feel this should have been a strength of the thread. Dialogue was a chance to pick up plot where there was none. He had some inner dialogue that showed he had already figured out he was an apprentice long before it was openly admitted. THis seemed forced and rushed, which hurt pacing.

    Action: 5 - More on this in character, but it was hard to imagine what was or wasn’t out of character. With no such references, you get middle of the road.

    Persona: 4 - Persona or Character as I like to call it is the force of personality your characters developed or showed in a thread. I could catch little glimpses of this character from time to time, but in the long run, I had no clue about sage, other than a mild irritation that he didn’t like being mistaken for a girl. This is a good personality quirk, and it shows something, but it's a MINOR quirk, much like my character Seth getting Sea Sick. I need more to go off of in this moment.

    Mechanics: 5 - There was some spacing errors, lines that were immediately below other lines, and missing a question mark at the end of a compounded question. You also had issues with a wild goose chase being a chance. One that jumped out at me was course being turned into cause for some reason. It seemed like it might be a cultural thing? I don’t know but it confused me, but was consistent throughout the thread,

    Clarity: 5 - The actions were clear, even if the setting and the mechanics were not. What hurt your clarity score was those latter two. Sometimes I just saw these guys in the white room of the matrix, and being one line away from summoning guns to use for their next attack.

    Technique: 6 - You have a very literal storytelling style. You are saying exactly what's going on as it happens, and cluing the reader onto the story elements as they occur. WHile this is fine, it MURDERS your technique score because you aren’t risking anything. It also hurts storytelling as your story isn’t terribly complex. You’ll need to risk things in order to get a higher score here.

    Wildcard: 8 - This story comes across as the beginning. Its your first steps as a writer and as a character. It shows, but that's not a bad thing. I barely remember Seth’s first story, much to my chagrin, but I think you’ll remember this first step.

    Score: 55

    Summation: This story was spartan, but a good honest effort. DOn’t let the score hurt your pride man, 55 is a solid start for a first outing. To give you an idea, my first thread was a 42, and it only scored that high because my character actually lost a fight and suffered a consequence for his action. That should give you an idea for how well you did.

    Out of Character:
    The views and opinions here do not constitute an actual Althanas Judgement. In no way shape or form has an actual judgement occurred, and you should not place value on this judgement beyond as a tool for improvement. The opinions expressed are solely the property of Dissinger, the Althanian Curmudgeon. Thank You.
    Last edited by Dissinger; 04-15-17 at 09:34 PM.
    "White needles buried in the red
    The engine roars and then it gives
    But never dies
    'Cause we don't live
    We just survive
    On the scraps that you throw away"

    -Re-education (Through Labor), Rise Against

  7. #7
    Hand of Virtue
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    Level completed: 69%,
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    SirArtemis's Avatar

    Artemis Eburi
    Human (+ Dovicarus)
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    I'm pretty late to the party so I'll go for more brevity.

    Storytelling, Setting, and Pacing

    I rather enjoyed the tone you set for this piece as well as the story being told. Following Sage's troubleshooting of entering the tower, the purpose for being there, and the result was all pretty satisfying and engaging. It served as a pretty good "chapter one" to a book, or if not a chapter one, a pretty early exposition (if you went back to the actual receiving the letter and leaving the father for example as your starting point). The setting was sufficient, but I felt like it could have used more life. You could have really taken the opportunity to bring this tower to life, but as it stood, it didn't really pop for me. It was a tower (I imagined a lighthouse of stone) and had windows and a door. And there was a kitchen. That's all I got.

    Communication, Action, and Persona

    I began to get an understanding of Sage as a character, but I was a bit more hesitant of Friedman. My beef with him is more just the notion that if this guy is at least a century old human, I almost expect him to be a bit . . . tired in a sense. I did get a beginning personality for him as well, and I imagine in time you'll flesh him out more. Giving characters quirks helps. However, one thing I did notice is that you dropped off his general appearance at the station with a "heads up this is his look" and then left it. Set it and forget it kind of approach. He didn't roll up his sleeves to do the dishes for example. Or unbutton it in the heat of Fallien. I also have no idea what sage looks like. A boy-girl child with longish nice hair? Nothing else.

    Mechanics, Clarity, and Technique

    As mentioned, the kickers here for you are punctuating dialogue, capitalizing when not necessary, and for me general spelling. There were a lot of typos. And six instances of "of cause" instead of "of course." I wanted to yell at you. In general, these did impede the clarity and reading of the thread, but otherwise I think your story is pretty easy to follow.


    I think overall your work is pretty enjoyable to read, and I do already feel like I want to see Sage learn and grow. I want to see what happens with his experiences, his relationship with Friedman, his father, the arc that will happen regarding healing the field that protects the Crossroads, and whether he improves it. There is a lot to discover over time and I want to know. However, I also want to see that come through with more emphasis on prose and a more clean presentation. Some of the things mentioned by myself (and mostly others above) is a great place to start, and to begin practicing. Vignettes (when around) are also a great exercise to practice, especially since they are one post.

    Overall I think you did a good job and look forward to seeing more of your work. You're starting in a great place.
    2011 Althy Winner - Most Realistic Character
    2016 Althy Winner - Best Contributor & Player of the Year (tie)

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  8. #8
    EXP: 2,355, Level: 2
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    Level completed: 12%,
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    Harbinger's Avatar


    I liked the way you managed the magic and the tower. I think it is a challenge to describe the particular magic spells while managing your character and the reader. You did a good job pushing all three along at the same pace.

    What I would have liked is more use of setting as the story progressed. You had four key settings the story took place, classic English countryside, deep desert, wasteland and a mage’s tower. Each of these have vastly different feels and sensations that you can draw upon. I liked the heat of the desert and the crunch of the ground in Raiaera, but you could have done more. Dusty tombs, or perhaps the absence of dust? The cold chill of undisturbed air in the tower perhaps.

    In terms of ‘grandness’ this story was pretty simple. I struggled to know who Sage was a the start, but it grew over time. What would have helped was some additional back story. What was the deal with his parents? Why was it an issue he looked like a girl? Reading this as your first thread left me a bit isolated with what was going on.

    The concept as you followed it was solid, and it progressed as you planned it. Well done on the execution without it becoming too laboured.

    I’ve mentioned this below, but I’d have like dialogue to have been expanded more to suit the two characters. This would have helped with understanding the characters. You hinted that the old mage was called a trickster by some, that made me think he was going to do something… well tricky. When that didn’t come (at least not as I wanted), I was somewhat disappointed.

    Sage seemed like a very serious little chap. It makes it hard to get to know him if you wander around his head like we did in this thread. He never got angry, sad or frightened (at least, more so than a passing mention of ‘fidgeting’. That made it hard to explore those aspects. Believe me, a boring character is a hard one to shake. Take him more out of his comfort zone next time. Perhaps have him nearly give up on getting into the tower, or getting frustrated. How does he react when he has no idea what to do?

    I saw a few mistakes, but nothing that really detracted from the story. It seems the ones I saw wouldn’t have been picked up by a spell checker.

    I found myself sometimes confused by the choice of words you used. For example, repeating a statement rather than leaving with a crisp ending or using a few more words than you needed to. This perhaps helped in giving you a sort of ‘thoughtful’ tone with your writing. Because the thread was quite a thoughtful one, it met your need. If you were doing action, it might make it difficult to keep a solid pace.

    You spent a lot of time dealing with dialogue, but it sounded like a conversation between the same two characters. I would have liked to see more specific work choice to separate the two characters. Should an ancient wizard describe things in the same way as the boy? Perhaps if they do, then that could be used to drawn the reader’s attention too. Turns of phrase, specific ways of pronouncing words, etc etc, can all be used to separate them.

    All in all, I liked this thread. Small, but it pushed your storyline further along and was a nice slice of your character to read.

  9. #9
    EXP: 91,535, Level: 13
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    Level completed: 11%,
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    Revenant's Avatar

    William Arcus
    Mid-30's (apparent age)
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    Heyo! Seeing how many people have given good advice already, I’m just going to go post by post and give my less-than-professional-writer thoughts on your story. Avante!

    Post 1:
    You start immediately with the driver looking “around the large expanse of fields that surrounded them.” But you’ve only introduced the driver at this point, so who is “them?” The assumption is the driver’s passenger, but why not simply say that?

    “He watched the boy frown as he produced his father’s letter and checked its contents one more time.” You have too many uses of “he” here, and this is a thing that happens more than once in your story. Only use the pronoun he for one person in the sentence if you can manage, otherwise it gets confusing for the reader. “The driver watched the boy frown as he produced his father’s … “

    Then there is another issue that crops up throughout the rest of the story, your lack of punctuation at the end of a quotation. Quotation marks still need a comma, period, or some other punctuation to end them.

    “... perhaps the boy was one of those other angle people he sometimes heard about.” Did you mean angel? And is politeness really so rare in Corone that only angels and backwater hicks use it?

    Then you move nicely into the purpose of your story, establishing the intent early. Alright I’m onboard, let’s see where this goes.

    “The incident with the murderous potted aside,” Wait, what? Assuming you mean a murderous potted plant, that’s interesting and funny. I want to know more about that incident but if it’s just a throwaway line for humor it still works to show that Sage has already been through some wacky adventures. Good way to set up this story as something more light-hearted. Just make sure you either add that “plant” to the potted or explain just what a “potted” is.

    Invisible tower, ha.

    “Where is the door?” I like the humor! A bit too many extra lines there though.

    Post 2:
    Ok, setup of the tower’s mystical nature. Good, I’ve got the feeling that I know exactly what Sage is looking at.

    The lines “Sage knew without a doubt that he would not be climbing up the side any time soon.” And “Not getting up there.” Should not be back to back, the repetition doesn’t work here.

    Looking for a cellar door, not something I would have thought of. Cool, now I’m thinking of my own ways that the entrance is hidden.

    The yelling seems a natural progression, but the things that Sage yells are jarring in a way that takes me out of the flow of your story.

    Poking the blocks, that was what I first thought of. Nice.

    The entire paragraph about the fae spell and diverting attention felt very awkward.

    And, Sage has got it. Nice trick, and quick thinking. That felt like a solid natural progression to solving the problem. Sage had to struggle and think about it, trying more than one thing. Instead of being written as solving something so esoteric immediately he tried more mundane ways of solving the problem like I, as the reader, would. This creates a tie between the reader and Sage and then goes on to show just how clever Sage is for thinking up something that the reader wouldn’t normally think up.

    “… his hand met wood.” Giggle. Sorry.

    Post 3:
    Whoa! The base of the tower was only several FEET across from outside. That’s not a tower, that’s a pole! It’s cool that it’s bigger on the inside than the outside, but you still need a realistic dimension because I was jarred out of reading the first time I went over that.

    “He also noted with a disgruntled air that there were windows all around him, windows that could not be seen from the outside.” Hah! Disgruntled is right.

    The entire meet-and-greet with the wizard is awkward. I initially thought that the confusion was a play on “Sage” typically being a term referring to a knowledgeable old man. Then, later in the thread it was revealed that Sage looks like a girl. I didn’t understand that at all in this meeting and some clarification here is needed. Though once I later learned that Sage looks girlish the wizard’s line “Well either way, what can I do for you?” was funnier when I realized that Victor was saying “Ok, sure, whatever,” to Sage’s declaration.

    “Find a teacher,” the man finished with a groan. The ubiquitous “what have I gotten myself into.”

    Post 4:
    Tea time. What a courteous old wizard. He must be an angel.

    Ok, I know I mentioned earlier that you need to identify a single subject for the pronoun he in a sentence, but I just want to reiterate that here because the sentence, “During their trip to Scara Brae, he had neglected to tell Sage that he had a spell that would let him keep track of him.” Is really confusing. Does his father have a spell to keep track of himself? That’s what it reads like. If so, apologies.

    You paragraph about the Crossroads Barrier is a bit of an exposition dump and all of it sort of flows together and gets lost. It is the longest paragraph in the post and covers at least three topics; what the barrier was, the lack of merchant trade to Crossroads, and the barrier’s maybe/maybe not being weakened. That’s a lot of information to just dump into one blurb and then move on. Break it apart and tie it to the rest of the story more effectively or it’s nothing more than filler and isn’t necessary.

    Poor Sage isn’t too confident in his abilities. Sadface.,

    Post 5:
    Would withholding how much you know make you seem smarter or just more or a pretentious jerk? The eternal debate.

    Marce the Wise, not Marco the wise.

    Cool, I feel like I can get into your magic system. I’d have liked to have seen more of a discussion of which particular purposes each art would be better for, but that’s just me.

    Succubi! Ooh-la-la.

    Alas, poor Raiaera.

    An interesting theory of magic at the end there. I’m pretty sure I have a character floating around somewhere who’d debate you on your belief.

    Post 6:
    Aha! Sage looks like a girl. Now that earlier bit of the conversation makes more sense.

    Remember the possessive apostrophe for “Owen’s flesh and blood.”

    “Never share your body with anything larger than your head,” the lesser known corollary of, “Never eat anything bigger than your head.”

    Sage says he only knows one spell, and Victor has already acknowledged Sage’s knowledge base as lacking, and yet Victor still expects something big and flashy like a fireball? That old man has spent way too long away from the basics. Everyone knows that Light is a cantrip while Fireball is a level-3 spell. Seriously though, Victor’s expectations there are a little ridiculous.

    Come on, man, help a protagonist out.

    Post 7:
    “I’m sure you understand that I just am not in the position to take on any apprentices at this time.” What position is that? Solitary old man with nothing else to do? Lazy ass wizard. And yet somehow I’m guessing that Victor will still find some way to apprentice Sage, after a fashion.

    Hah! For a moment I was hoping Victor would just say “I’m glad you see it my way,” and then boot Sage out into the middle of the Fallien desert. I am not a nice person.

    “It is not for the faint of heart.” Did you just quote the Althanas subforum wiki? *Looks around and can’t find anything.* No, I guess not. Still, that line sounded out of place.

    I’m amazing? More like fan-fucking-tastic. Booyah!

    Post 8:
    No real name but I like to call it “Victor’s Swinging Bachelor Party Palace.”

    The world was figuratively, FIGURATIVELY his oyster. Otherwise, we’re all just an afternoon aphrodisiac snack for some cooky old wizard. And anyways it’s more like the world is his doormat.

    “Does this mean you will be taking me on as an apprentice?” Dude, didn’t I just tell you that I obviously don’t have time for that what will all my lonesome brooding that I have to get done? No, seriously, I’ll teach you a few things but then your ass is outta here.

    Don’t worry, after 4 teleportations the tower can just chug a few blue potions. Get it? More mana? No, alright I’ll go back to commentary now.

    I like how Victor is all like, “No I won’t teach you full time. I can only teach you the basics. By the way here is the instruction manual for my incredibly complex artifact. Cool, huh?” And thus Sage learns power without responsibility or restraint. Welcome to villainhood Sage!

    Post 9:
    Magic, as everyone knows, doesn’t work without the dramatic hand gestures.

    You get one chance to go anywhere in the world and instead of the Bard College ladies shower room you choose the middle of a blighted desolation. You are a bummer, Sage.

    Ah, here’s the lesson on responsibility and restrain with all that power. Villainhood rescinded, I suppose.

    Aw, c’mon. Raiaera’s not THAT bad guys. I mean, we’ve got, like, a nice little pond over here. Look at the pond. I mean, it’s kind of dirty, but … POND.

    Joking aside, I actually really like the lesson Victor is giving here. This is a good post and as a reader I am empathizing with the protagonist in this moment.

    “But it will not always remain so.” Deep truths here, man. Deep truths.

    Post 10:
    Part-time apprentice is a great tagline.

    “There was no doubt in his mind that Victor would do his best to keep an eye on the boy. Two if he was feeling generous.” Ba-dum-shaaaa

    Hah! Cooky old wizard DID just kick him out in the middle of nowhere. AND he forgot to actually give Sage anything useful. This whole thing was a big waste of time! Hah!

    On a more serious note, I liked the end. The humor of the situation brought back the lighthearted feel to the thread after the serious note in Raiaera. It established a good relationship between Sage and Victor. It built up a decent foundation from which to build upon for Sage’s character.

    Overall, I enjoyed this thread. It has some smart moments and some really good ideas. You also have some really rough spots, but I think that a lot of those will be smoothed out simply by writing more and getting a little more experience. It also wouldn’t hurt to have someone else take a look over your threads for some proofreading.

    I look forward to reading more of your work.
    "I have looked upon all that the universe has to hold of horror, and even the skies of spring and the flowers of summer must ever afterward be poison to me." - Call of Cthulhu

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  10. #10
    Deliver Us
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    Level completed: 61%,
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    Shinsou Vaan Osiris's Avatar

    Shinsou Vaan Osiris
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    "Hilarious question, particularly from you. Did you ever ask why? Why we toppled all those dictators, undermined all those regimes, only to come home: "Well done, good job, but sorry, old boy, everything you risked your life and limb for has changed."

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