Author Topic: Chrono Relics  (Read 886 times)

Grace Ashtear

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Chrono Relics
« on: August 14, 2012, 06:15:47 pm »
I'm fairly new when it comes to fanfics, but I have received many compliments when it comes to my writing. This is after both Trigger and Cross (and Radical Dreamers I suppose) and assuming this is one of the ways the timeline changed. It's kind of hard to explain without spoiling, so just feel free to read it.
http://www.fanfiction.net/s/8429026/1/Chrono_Relics
Also, I'm really nitpicky about spelling and grammar. If you notice anything, please tell me.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2012, 06:43:46 pm by Grace Ashtear »

Mr Bekkler

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Re: Chrono Relics
« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2012, 06:53:46 pm »
I'll offer some constructive criticism, but promise you won't take it the wrong way. I'm not saying you're stupid. I'm pointing out how you could improve in a future draft. Also, this is just one person's opinion.
For starters, if that's the whole thing, and I assume it's not, it's rather short and I think it could use some breathing room. Even for just one chapter or one part, it's pretty short, and I find myself wanting to know more about the situation being presented. What does the reader call the nameless villain or antihero? The "master" is vague and while it is rather to the point, it's pretty obvious this is a badguy. While that might be what you're going for, you could take the vagueness a step further and make him a true person of mystery, who could be portrayed as a goodguy, since his intent and motivations are ambiguous we really don't know anything about him. The name Talzar reminds me of a generic He-Man character, but if he's a badguy too that's forgivable, it certainly sounds "bad"(not poor quality, but like an evil character). So, yeah, just more. That's all I want. Either more mystery, or more evil, or more confusion, or more detail about this guy, like whether it's even a guy or a woman and I've been wrong all along, what this person looks like, are they even human or some kind of Mystic or Reptite or something else, how does this person know what happened in previous timelines after the changes have been made but not even know how to travel through time, especially if this person is just from 1020AD and doesn't have the advantage of magic from the dark ages or technology from the future, how does he know about lucca, how does this tie in to the other characters and their fates, etc.

This might sound contrary to what I just said, asking you to write more and make it longer, but hear me out. I think the whole first three paragraphs could be cut out completely and not have any effect on the actual story you're telling. They simply serve as an aside from the author to the audience, but don't work as a narrative. It's meant to be a re-cap of the events of Trigger and Cross and there are some good new ideas in there that I think would be better without the super-condensed "legends". This could be remedied by placing it within a framing device, maybe it's a character telling another character what happened in their view. It could even be the nameless villain you've already presented. But just having text blocks for the purpose of exposition makes it seem too rushed to be appreciated and reminds me a lot of Star Wars when it suddenly transitions to the narrative. You could separate it out of Chapter one into a Prologue. Personally, I think it could just go and you'd be better off.

It wasn't all bad, but there's definitely room to grow and I'm not sure if you've got a whole story planned out or are just making it up as you go, there weren't many clues either way. But really it's just jarring to have two glaringly different styles in one chapter without any formatting break between the two or any transition from one into the other.

Some things I particularly liked were the idea that a Creator would be required to truly cleanse the timeline, though the Creator might have ulterior motives that aren't necessarily "good". I liked the description of the amulet, and the clear plot to find Lucca, which I'm sure introduces a plotline I haven't seen yet that will ultimately reunite the characters we know and love for a new adventure, but again I haven't actually read any of that so keep writing!

Grace Ashtear

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Re: Chrono Relics
« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2012, 07:21:21 pm »
I'm sorry if that wasn't clear, but these are the villains of the story and the master's name is said at the very end, Serpedes. (Let me tell you, much later you will find out his origins that I think will be a very interesting plot twist.)
There was a separation between the introduction (which I think was rambly now that I look back.) but ff.net cut it out. I'll try to reupload it or just make it into a prologue of a sorts. What is most important to me is that people understand the concept of the woven threads of time.
I think I'll work on the second chapter now, because anyone who will read this wants to know about the characters we know and love.
Second edit? Ugh! Anyways... I do have a lot of a plot thought out, so this isn't a complete improv story, don't worry!
edit 3: Openoffice and the copy/paste method of ff.net are being bitches with me and the horizontal lines being in between every paragraph. Also, whatever separators I decide to use (even things like ***** or *~*~*~*~*) aren't showing up. I just about give up with fixing it.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2012, 08:31:08 pm by Grace Ashtear »

Thought

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Re: Chrono Relics
« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2012, 09:03:02 pm »
I'll try to follow Bekkler's model and offer some constructive criticism as well.

There are a few things that are problematic, but the two biggest, I'd say, is a need for ""in late, out early" and more natural dialogue.

Or, in other words, start your prose just a moment after a scene starts getting interesting, and leave it just before it starts being boring. In your case, we start before there's really anything going on in the scene. Indeed, nothing happens in any of it. These ne'er-do-wells are just standing around talking. As such, there's no hook. Perhaps add some interpersonal conflict between Master and Talzar. Perhaps Master called Talzar in because it's pissed at waiting for the lacky to find a way to get at Lavos, and has decided to publically punish him. The scene, then, becomes a verbal fight at Talzar tries to convince his leader that he really has found a solution. But that is just one suggestion, I'm sure you can think of better.

Unfortunately, your dialogue is a bit stilted. First, assume that your readers are competent. There's no need to explain every little aspect. Conversations make leaps. Second, move your exposition to later. There's no hint that this is a high level planning meeting, and even if it was, chances are the Master wouldn't be involved (people bring solutions to leaders, they don't bother them with the minute planning). More generally, you have a problem with info dumping, but that's a discussion for another day. And third, try trimming about 10% of the dialogue you keep. For example:

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"Talzar, have you found a way to Lavos?"

"Yes, my lord. The reason others have failed is that only its pure power can control time. Unfortunately, it's been tainted with the Earth's. We must extract the raw power to succeed. We must return to when he first came to Earth."

"Time travel? How?"

"The Epoch. This machine has been dismantled, and Belthazar has escaped this time, but there is one left who knows how to build it. We can reconstruct it and travel to when Lavos arrived. You have the spells for it, yes?"

"I have them. But we require the Relics. Do you have a plan to get through the protection of their temples? And who can rebuild the Epoch?"

"Not a man, a brilliant woman in Guardia, one of those so-called Heroes of Time. Lucca Ashtear. They all can enter the temples. We'll bait them with a reason to use the relics."

"How?"

"I've always wanted to use this little trinket. We'll place its curse upon the one we want. Only the relics can break it. Undoubtedly, the heroes will want the relics to save their friend. They'll gathering them... and give them to us. Once we tap into the thoughts of our new servant, Lucca, the Epoch will return. We'll use the relics to control of Lavos, and the heroes."

"Very well. Let us go to Truce, to take this Lucca. Soon, all times will learn to fear the name of Lord Serpedes."

I only added the occasional word so that your sentences still made sense by what I cut. Though, again, I'm sure you could make things more refined.

Grace Ashtear

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Re: Chrono Relics
« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2012, 09:57:02 pm »
Alright. I think I focus too much on my writing being bland so I make it more complicated. I'll put in your dialogue to make it sound more natural.
The meeting is that Talzar has come up with the plot to take Lavos's power, while Serpedes is working on the arrangements.
I'm currently working on Chapter 2 and I'm about... a third done with it? If you want to, tell me if anything is better.

Thought

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Re: Chrono Relics
« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2012, 11:00:02 pm »
I'll put in your dialogue to make it sound more natural.

Oh I'm sure my version needs work. I was just trying to give an example of what I was talking about. Generally speaking, readers often know when there is a problem, but rarely how to fix it.

FaustWolf

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Re: Chrono Relics
« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2012, 11:59:05 pm »
Grace, I think I see what you mean about using complexity to keep your prose from becoming bland. For what it's worth, I enjoyed your opening for the merits of the phrasing itself -- the fact that Mr. Bekkler and Thought are offering higher-order advice is a testament to the fact that you've got a lot going for you already. It seems to me you could recycle the material in your intro as dialogue a learned scholar of time/dimensional travel might deliver to an initiate.

When handling dialogue, one of my favorite techniques is to intersperse character action with what they're saying. Let me borrow some snippets from William Peter Blatty (ever my favorite author!) to illustrate:


This helps pump character into characters, I think. It also gives the reader's eye a break when dialogue would otherwise run on in a big block. It looks like you're already exploring this sort of thing -- I say keep it up and push it further!

Some smaller notes: I think you're using "plains" when "planes" would be best, and be careful with your "than"/"then" -- I saw one place where you had the latter when you should have used the former ("better then" should be "better than").

Grace Ashtear

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Re: Chrono Relics
« Reply #7 on: August 16, 2012, 12:23:53 am »
@Thought: I know, so I made some of my own edits to it. Hopefully it sounds more natural.

@Faust: I'm glad to see someone understands my point of view. I do try to pay attention to add actions along with dialogue, which is what it seems a lot of fanfic writers lack.
Your smaller notes: I was debating whenever to use "plains" or "planes" and I picked the former because the latter made me think of airplanes (and mostly for what it is used for) I changed all of them, as well as the "then".

Also, chapter 2 is up.
http://www.fanfiction.net/s/8429026/2/Chrono_Relics

Mr Bekkler

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Re: Chrono Relics
« Reply #8 on: August 16, 2012, 03:00:05 am »
Sorry I didn't catch the name before, that was actually well handled.

I am inclined to agree with Faust and Thought on a few points: I think mixing character action into the dialogue would be effective for the first chapter (haven't read the second yet). For example, rather than just have the badguys talking about their plan, perhaps they could be having the same conversation while doing something decidedly evil. They could be overseeing a torture room and have prisoner's screams interspersed, or watching some kind of tv monitor or tracking their plans on a map, or anything (in-character) in addition to just standing and talking.

I'll re-read to see your current changes and check out ch2 when I have time again, if you're interested in more critique and/or idea-bouncing.

Grace Ashtear

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Re: Chrono Relics
« Reply #9 on: August 17, 2012, 07:49:37 pm »
Sudden silence is sudden.
Also, I think it was partly my doing, since Thought also missed that was supposed to be the master's name.

Chapter 3, it's getting intense.
www.fanfiction.net/s/8429026/3/Chrono_Relics

Mr Bekkler

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Re: Chrono Relics
« Reply #10 on: August 17, 2012, 11:11:46 pm »
I would encourage you to keep the "author's notes" out of the actual chapters, and in the forum conversation. I haven't commented because I wasn't sure that you wanted any more critique, you never answered. Anyway, I read Chapter 2 and it's coming along much better than the first chapter already. The characters are actually doing something, there's a few clues as to how they're connected to those we already know and love, and the dialogue feels more like people talking and less like a forced lecture, though it is still very short. If Chapter 1 or 2 were in a real book they'd each be a single page, front and back, approximately. Chapter 3 looks like it's getting more ambitious in length (haven't actually read any of it yet I just opened the link real quick to take a peek) so I'll see where it leads.

Grace Ashtear

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Re: Chrono Relics
« Reply #11 on: August 18, 2012, 12:40:13 am »
Critique Question: Sorry I kept you waiting. I still welcome critique if you have any. I mainly didn't reply because I didn't want to post again until I had Chapter 3 up, which took longer than expected (hopefully it shows).

Length Issue: I've been trying to work with that. Chapter 1 and 2 are both about 1,000 words long and take up 2 MWord pages. Chapter 3 "flowed" much easier for me because it is a pretty intense part. It ended up doubling its length compared to the first two, which I like and will try to mantain.

Author's Notes: I put the author's notes in the chapters for other people reading this outside of the Compendium. Sorry if that is too inconvenient.
Quote
the dialogue feels more like people talking and less like a forced lecture
This must have been me failing at a "villains planning" conversation. I took it too far as it was pretty clear. Cassander's and Talia's was easier because it is just a friend to friend conversation, as opposed to master to minion.
Quote
there's a few clues as to how they're connected to those we already know and love
He he, I love writing about those kinds of things. The only thing I am worried about though is arguments coming up about how Talia's dad is *him*. Mostly, I have to thank Lady Marle on here for getting me onto that ship. ^_^
P.S. If LM ever reads this, I'm still looking forward to Chrono Sovereign and am sort of distracting myself by writing this!
Edit: Doh, don't want to look like a random stranger. My dA username is is Flareon-Schaeffer
« Last Edit: August 19, 2012, 02:16:02 am by Grace Ashtear »

Mr Bekkler

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Re: Chrono Relics
« Reply #12 on: August 18, 2012, 01:35:28 am »
That makes sense. I don't think Chapter one is a failure, so to speak, just a hard place to start. It needs an injection of some special something but what, I can't tell you specifically. It's the first encounter with the villains, so again, I'd recommend adding some kind of act the two characters could be doing to show the reader their motivations are clearly evil. Chapter two could be beefed up a little, just with some general description of the setting added, if not whole conversations with other characters. This is your chance to do some world-building and show the reader what (I assume) the main characters' home town is like, what they normally do and what kind of reputation they might have around town, not to mention how people live, just basics like where they buy their groceries, how gossip spreads, etc. That kind of thing.

As far as the author's notes, it might seem fine to you now while the chapter and notes are current, but you might regret it later when you have more (or all) done and they're peppered with outdated comments. Most of the notes seem to be requests for people to comment, and I don't know of a way to comment on that site anyway so it seems silly to me and not like a book at all. Nothing personal, but as the saying goes "it's 90% presentation, and 10% content" in regard to keeping an audience's attention.

I'll be sure to give you more notes when I finish chapter 3. And please don't take my criticisms the wrong way, I know I can be blunt sometimes but I'd rather be honest than pamper someone who could legitimately improve like yourself. Edit: If you're interested in reading anything I've written, here are two very different examples.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2012, 01:39:31 am by Mr Bekkler »

Grace Ashtear

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Re: Chrono Relics
« Reply #13 on: August 18, 2012, 01:48:44 am »
None of your criticisms have been taken personally. In fact, I welcome them even more since I like to see that change from people at school who all they say to me is "OMG! It's so good! Do you plan on a career in writing?" For the showing they are evil, I would think anyone trying to get Lavos's power would be evil, let alone that they want to kidnap Lucca and do God-knows-what to her. Whenever I can, maybe I'll go back and improve the writing.
Commenting on ff.net is done by the review box at the bottom of every chapter. They're just called "reviews" instead of "comments" I only have one on there so far from SimplyWaters, who I don't know if they are a member on the Compendium or not.
Now that you say that about the author's notes, I won't do that anymore. I think I'm going to start Chapter 4 now since I have been wanting for a long time to write the end part of Chapter 3 and beyond.
Edit: Ah, I see at what you're going for in your stories! I think I should start describing the scenery a little more or what's going on around the characters. I must have backed a little off on it because last time I did that I went overboard. Naturally, I'm still going to have a lot of room for improvement, I'm only just going into high school after all...
« Last Edit: August 18, 2012, 01:58:48 am by Grace Ashtear »

Mr Bekkler

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Re: Chrono Relics
« Reply #14 on: August 18, 2012, 02:14:24 am »
Edit: Ah, I see at what you're going for in your stories! I think I should start describing the scenery a little more or what's going on around the characters.

Exactly! Obviously my writing's not perfect either but you get a sense for what kind of place the character is in and it helps establish their state of mind and how they fit into the setting. (Guideline, not a rule, coming up: )Make sure when you do this you don't take the focus too far away from what's going on, only give the details that are important to the situation (or interesting because of the situation). I personally choose to write about misfit characters for whom nothing seems to go right, and to establish that I focus on the more depressing parts of the scenery. If it's a happy situation, I might describe the things that smell nice and have bright colors or pretty sounds. If it's more tense, I'll use shorter sentences and direct the action quickly, as though it were a choreographed scene in a movie. Just try to get into your character's heads and know them and know how they work, and it'll come easy with a little practice.

And you're just going in to high school? Hell, keep writing, you can probably hone your skill really well before you even graduate.