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Zea by Brian Bigley

PostPosted: July 07, 2005, 07:58:43 AM
by kailhofer
I only have a few minutes before I have to leave for another... ahem, thrilling 12-hour day at work, so I'll try to keep this short.<br><br><br>I thought this was an all right story, but not one that blew me away.<br><br>It tells a tale of a pair of magic-wielding swordspersons who rescue a baroness from pirates. Zea is a gnome with great hunting skills, and her partner, Mud, is a giant of a man, alive with healing powers and childlike intelligence.<br><br>I thought the world building was good, and there was a fair effort to describe the setting with more than one or two senses.<br><br>Zea and her worry over Mud's intelligence made her a more likeable character, but I have to admit that his ability to heal himself so easily made his character seem less real. I mean, it was hard to worry about the big lug after I knew that his regenerative ability was off the charts, so to speak. I knew he wouldn't get hurt, not really.<br><br>The plot seemed a little flat to me in that it doesn't build towards a climax. The tension in the initial combat seemed just the same as when the sea monster breaks apart the ship. Even when Mud is dragged underwater, because of his healing ability, I never for a moment thought he would drown. No worry, no emotional tie-in for me as reader, in that scene.<br><br>On dialogue, the voices were interchangeable, instead of full, rich ones where you can practically tell who's speaking without the identifier tags.<br><br><br>All in all, this story does a fair job: Characters arrive, there's a fight, the girl is rescued, and the story even ends with a little bit of humor. However, I wanted more emotion and to be more drawn in to the plot.<br><br>Nate

Re: Zea by Brian Bigley

PostPosted: July 08, 2005, 06:46:19 PM
by graeylin
Thank you for the comments. I will try to not overwhelm the thread with my attempts to seek advice, and focus only on two areas. <br><br>Do you have advice on how to better separate the two "voices" as I rewrite? Should there be accents, or something else?<br><br>As for Mud, any advice on how to better convey that although he won't be physically hurt, he does have an emotional stake in the events, and can be damaged? <br><br>

Re: Zea by Brian Bigley

PostPosted: July 09, 2005, 12:36:46 PM
by unforgibbon
Your queries may have been directed at Nate, but here is my two cents (and to be fair, I have yet to read the story, but these seem like questions that can be addressed in general terms).<br><br>Voices can be distinguished by accents for sure, but accents are delicate things that can be overdone or inconsistent. One way to create a distinctive voice is to understand your character from an emotional, intellectual, and social background standpoint and imagine how someone like that might speak. What level of vocabulary? How coarse? What kind of idioms and phrases might this person favor? Is this person aggressive, polite, shy, comedic? From there, you can begin to develop voices. I'm sure others can elaborate or add to this.<br><br>As for the abilities of Mud, it is my understanding that all magic must have a cost. So perhaps in using his healing powers, he must then pay a price depending on how badly hurt he was--maybe he'd be healed but utterly exhausted and unable to fight for a time, leaving him useless and vulnerable. Or maybe the healing power is inconsistent or otherwise not 100% effective; eg, he can heal his broken arm, but the bone knits poorly, forever limiting full use, then he'd have to decide whether to chose a quick magical healing or go the route of normal men. Maybe his magic somehow extracts a cost from those around him, again forcing choices. Something like that. Again, there others here can probably offer useful suggestions.<br><br>Dan E.

Re: Zea by Brian Bigley

PostPosted: July 10, 2005, 08:01:17 PM
by kailhofer
Thank you for the comments. I will try to not overwhelm the thread with my attempts to seek advice, and focus only on two areas.
<br>Ask away. That's what this board is for.<br><br>
Do you have advice on how to better separate the two "voices" as I rewrite? Should there be accents, or something else?
<br>Personally, I look for dialog that matches the setting of the story, without anachronisms. For instance, you wouldn't want Mud to say something like "that's the ticket" because it is a modern expression, and they seem to come from an iron-age technology world. I'd follow Dan's advice, but also allow for slight to moderate use of accents and catch phrases. As a rule, try to avoid any stiff or boring monologues, or where infodumps are disguised as discussion.<br><br>The marsh rats in particular were surprisingly articulate for beings with brains their size, especially with no other explanation given for their skill (it was an escaped familiar of a wizard, or something like that).<br><br>When it's done right, the reader can pretty much tell who's talking without the identifiers (but keep them in anyway). That is, they'll spot short, choppy, imperative statements of a James T. Kirk and just know by seeing them that they are not the lengthy, logical discourse of a Mr. Spock. <br><br>
As for Mud, any advice on how to better convey that although he won't be physically hurt, he does have an emotional stake in the events, and can be damaged?
<br>I like Dan's trade-off idea, but perhaps you might want to rethink Mud's physical invulnerability altogether. Characters should be endearing (not necessarily the same thing as likeable), and I can't say that I have much in common with, or am particularly drawn to, someone who can't be hurt physically. Hurting him emotionally or mentally during the combat might help, or hurting someone he cares about. Perhaps if a pirate had stomped on one of the marsh rats and Mud stopped fighting the pirate to see if the rat was ok, and Zea had to get him back on track. <br><br>Heroes with flaws make excellent characters, and Mud's simple mind could be an wonderful example, except that nothing uses his weakness against him. In such a scene, he would have to grow as a character at that point, or use some piece of information gleaned earlier in the story, to survive. Or he's done in (or very nearly), and Zea has to bring him back (knowing she doesn't have the skill).<br><br>Nate