Date: 07/11/14 03:21 pm Title: A Meeting
A lovely story, I quite enjoyed it :) I can definitely see improvements in your writing compared to your previous work; your character voices were much stronger this time around. I love your fight scenes. I like the ending, too - open-ended, yet optimistic.
I will note that some things were a little... off sometimes, not fitting to the setting. Specifically, the opening paragraph:
"Jaxx poured the beer down his throat, trying to drown his disappointment in alcohol. Two years ago he’d been a soldier, an elite troop in the Royal army. But then the war had ended, and the army got downsized. Jaxx’s own unit was not immune to the cuts, and now he was scrapping by on mercenary work. And not even good merc work, with fighting and battles; he was escorting a small group of settlers to Frontier."
“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” - Mark Twain
Downsized, unit cuts, even alcohol are all terms that seem out of place in a high fantasy setting. It actually made me expect a low-tech western sci-fi setting a la "Firefly" at first, a notion of which I was only cured after more modern elements failed to manifest :P First impressions are important. How about...
"Jaxx poured the mead down his throat, trying to drown his sorrows. Two years ago he’d been a soldier, an elite troop in the Royal army. But then the war had ended, and in peacetime the king had no more gold to spare on the soldiers who'd risked their life to defend his hide. Jaxx’s own battalion had been disbanded like so many others, and now he was scrapping by on mercenary work. And not even good merc work, with fighting and battles; nay, he was escorting a small group of settlers to Frontier."
Other stuff that stood out in the first chapter: the weird argument about women warrior.
Specifically the complaint that "women warriors demanded equal treatment" and "[women] say “I’m a woman so you can’t stop me from fighting without being insensitive.” While we are used to them now, equal rights and the sensitivity thereof are pretty radical concepts that would have no place in a society which you explicitly mentions has nobles and royals, ie, a society built on the idea of people being superior to others by virtue of birth. It cuts out the very foundation of such egalitarian arguments. That's not to say that notions of equality was entirely foreign - King Arthur's round table comes to mind - just that these specific arguments sound ludicrous without the philosophical framework to back them up. This also helped cement my little misconception that I was reading about a degraded future, not medieval times :P
So, yeah. Keeping setting and worldbuilding in mind is very important when writing a story, because they influence how characters would think and speak.
Author's Response: The first chapter did suffer some from not getting much time spent editing. It's mostly a first draft, and some of the word choice is poor as a result. Editing is one of my weakest points, I really need to spend more effort on it, for the most part I just tweak a few sections and don't properly appraise the feel of a chapter as a whole. That is something I struggle with, when I'm done with a chapter I would like to publish it right away, so I don't spend the time to do more than a cursory reread. As to the world building regarding fighting women, I agree that it seems out of place, but I think that was the result of having influences that aren't widely known. If you've never heard of an author called Tamora Pierce, consider checking her out. She's written a variety of fantastic series, most of which are set in the same universe. In said universe, there are kings and nobles and a feudal society, and although most fighters are male, there are a few female knights. I was somewhat more thinking of that world than actual medieval times when talking about Jaxx's views towards women. In my head, while drafting the story it makes perfect sense, but now that I look back, without the context of thinking about those books, there is little to say that women fight in this world, and some of them do it well. I will have to keep this in mind for future stories, but I'm going to run into one huge problem. My next world is steampunk, which means its got bits and pieces of technology and culture from a wide variety of time periods. It's a world with short range radios, and electric heaters, but still uses gaslamps and most clothes are made out of wool. The internal combustion engine is a new technology, but they can store pressurized gas to refill the airship's balloon. Women fighting is considered common, but they are never allowed to be an officer off the ground. I'll do my best to contextualize the culture and world, but it's going to be difficult. Thank you for the review, you always write excellent critical reviews that help me to see where I'm weak and improve the quality of my writing.
Date: 07/11/14 01:01 am Title: Guardian
Well, I just finished this story. I loved it. I almost, almost want a sequel, but I feel that it would just detract from this piece. Fight scenes are hard to write, but you seemed to do fine with them. The dialogue was nicely written, so no worries there. All in all, an amazing story. My only problem with the story is that it's so short! Wish there was more. (Just no horrible sequel)
Author's Response: But but, what if good sequel? :P I don't know whether or not I'll come back to this story, it's open ended enough that I can if I chose to, but it's not something that I'm planning on doing right away. And in the original draft, there was another chapter in which they fought off a pack of wargs, but it didn't do anything to advance the plot, so I decided to cut it out. As to the fight scenes, I actually find them easier to write than dialogue. For a fight, I just have to image in my head where the combatants are at a given moment and then describe what they're doing. For writing a conversation, I have to keep myself in the heads of two people at once, roleplaying both of them at the same time so that the dialogue flows naturaly while still being the omnipotent guiding force towards what I want them to cover and not let the conversation meander and peter out without hitting the key points that the plot requires. That takes a great deal more effort than describing a sword fight for me. Might just be the way my head is wired though. Now I'm meandering :P Anyways, glad you enjoyed it, my next story will be longer, and I hope that you'll enjoy it.
Date: 07/10/14 01:02 pm Title: Guardian
No seriously, this is one of the best stories on this website, and possibly the best short story I have ever read. For a few reasons; You put actual effort into a pre-transformation story, post and pre characters are similar, if not the same (not bimbo-iffically different) and the story flows well, and reads nicely (only one mistake, I think you meant had, not hand. If you search the page, it's the second one down).
But either way, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and you have given me hope that this website is not totally chockablocked with sex crazed freaks. Thanks :)
Author's Response: Like any site that doesn't moderate for quality, there's going to be allot of middle of the road and bad stuff mixed in with a few gems. I appreciate being declared one of those gems, but I don't think I'm standing as tall as some of the giants of this site. But I'm getting better and I hope to be able to match them someday. My next story will be substantially longer, and I hope to be able to keep the flow of the story going for the entire length. With luck I will be able to continue to impress as I grow as an author.
Date: 07/09/14 11:06 am Title: Guardian
After reading this conclusion, I think I've switched gears. Haha! I'm rather interested in following Jex and seeing what adventures she can get herself into and what other characters she attracts to her cause, though other owners and forms of the sword are a good impetus for even wilder stories.
I like your style, so I'll probably follow either one, and hope you expand it a bit more, with more diverse characters that can play off each other. You did well with the budding comaraderie between Jaxx and Rhyska. I'd like to see how you handle a group dynamic.
Good luck in all future works!
Author's Response: Funny, my next story will include a much larger cast in a group dynamic. An asymmetrical group, but a group none the less! So you will soon see how well I handle a group. As for the continuation of this story, I'm starting to lean more towards Jex rather than the sword as well. There's allot less room for TG content, so it might not end up on this site though. Thanks for the compliments, and I hope that you'll enjoy my next tale of adventure!
Date: 07/09/14 10:49 am Title: Guardian
im so glad Jex was alright and didnt lose her legs. And loved that the mayor of the town is offering her a job, who knows maybe she can settle down and get married :) looking forward to reading more
Author's Response: If Jex lost her legs, it wouldn't make for very good sequel bait. :P She does settle down and become the terror of pickpockets everywhere, but as to marriage, I don't know! My muse would have to strike me with inspiration for a new story for me to find out. In the meantime, I hope you like steampunk. ;)
Date: 07/09/14 05:16 am Title: A Meeting
Grate story, my only complaint is that it was shorter than i hoped it would be, and i would have liked to see some more character development from the new and improved jaxx, and come to terms with the fact as he stated that every woman on the battle field has let him down and him being in just that situation.
The way your wrote it created the kind of world and realism that i seek for in a story. For instance the seen in the rain with jaxx and rashka fighting was so awesome with such imagery it felt real.
And my final question, was the reference to the "band of the hawk" a reference to Berserk?
Author's Response: Most of Jaxx's character development regarding fighting women was done with Ryska. Once she proved that she was just as capable as him, he dropped allot of his preconceptions about women being incapable of fighting, remember that he problem wasn't "women can't fight" it was "women who fight don't take the time to be good at it". Ryska showed him that the rule was not universal and Jex knew that her own skills were up to snuff, so I didn't see much room for character development there that didn't contradict with earlier character development. As to "Band of the Hawk", yes that is a reference to Berserk. I was having trouble coming up with a cool name that didn't sound pretentious, so eventually I just decided to make the name a reference to one of my favorite mangas.
Date: 07/05/14 05:11 pm Title: Frontier
Another great chapter. You're writing remains very good, especially the fight scene. It had a good mix of action and tension.
I like the way she defeated the cyke. Reminds me of the last fight scene in Brotherhood of the Wolf. Now I wonder what you have planned next for that amazing sword.
Author's Response: I like the way she killed the cyclops as well. I put in the chain because it was a cool weapon for fighting Ryska with, but it wasn't useful against the ogre. I didn't want to cut the weapon out, so the second ogre was replaced with a cyclops that gave Jex a nice big target. I liked the idea of her being whipped around, and I'm fairly happy with how the scene turned out. As for my plans for the sword, that is more complicated then it would first appear. The first shades of this idea have been bouncing around my head for years, with a wide variety of places and uses for a magic blade, including a castle under siege with a blade that can light on fire, a victorian-esque city with a plague and the sword becomes a scapel, as well as a variety of sword in the stone like situations. For now I'm going to end this story and start drafting my next, but this world will be available if I want to come back to it. Whether I follow Jex or the sword, depends on what my muse says, although the sword is more likely. I hope you'll like the ending, as well as my next story.
Date: 07/04/14 05:45 pm Title: Frontier
my only wish with this story well actually 2. 1 longer chapters and 2 more chapters more often :) cause i cant get enough of this adventure. GREAT chapter
Author's Response: The short chapters are a result of my writing style. I have a certain number of things I want to put in a chapter, and once those things are written I end the chapter. I'm not sure how to make them longer really, I'd have to change my thought process when planning the chapters. It's possible that they will grow in size as I get more experienced. As for more chapters, I regret to inform you that the next chapter will be the last for this particular story. It's open ended though, I might decide to come by this world again later when my next story is finished.
Date: 07/03/14 02:13 pm Title: Battle
I for one loved the fight and finally got to see the change and the reason for it. So to me I had no problems. Great job
Author's Response: I liked the fight as well, it's just the dialogue I had a problem with. Still, thanks. Hopefully you'll like the next chapter's fight as well
Date: 07/03/14 11:36 am Title: A Meeting
This is very good. I think the dialogue is great, as everyone involved is probably too tired to talk much anyway. I noticed a delay in the pronoun switch, but otherwise there aren't errors.
Author's Response: Thank you for the defense of the dialogue. Delay in the pronoun switch and name switch was entirely intentional. It took Jaxx/Jex some time to start thinking of herself as a woman and the delay in the pronoun switch was meant to be that time. I can see how it would look like a slip up though.
Date: 07/01/14 11:13 am Title: Ogre
Oh cool, a good fantasy romp! You have a good style for drawing out tension and suspense, and that combined with such evil cliffhangers can spell trouble for many a reader. :P
I also really like that you are not afraid to (seemingly) kill off familiar, relatable characters to build a good, suspenseful tale. Bravo.
Keep up the good work.
Author's Response: I assure you, Ryska is dead. I hope that you weren't expecting a romance between her and Jaxx :P Thanks though. After a cliffhanger like that, I can't delay to long, so expect the next chapter in a few days
Date: 06/18/14 08:22 am Title: A Meeting
I have one negative comment and it's a pet peeve of mine. Right there in the first para you use 'downsize'. For me 21st century business buzzwords don't work in sword and sorcery fantasies.
But, after that, it well deserves the 5* rating. Well done.
Author's Response: It bugged me as well when I was writing it, but I couldn't come up with a better way to say it. I knew it was immersion breaking, but I eventually decided that it was the first paragraph and there wasn't enough immersion to be broken. Terminology like that is something I intend to avoid in the future.
Date: 06/17/14 10:30 am Title: Duel
Wow that was one hell of a duel. Very exciting. Still not sure where story is going but really enjoying it.
Author's Response: Nobody in the story sees the TG coming, so there is not a allot of foreshadowing of it. If my mental spacing is right, it will happen in 2 chapters, but the means of it happening won't be revealed until the start of that chapter.
Date: 06/15/14 09:02 am Title: A Meeting
Your writing keeps getting better and better. This is very good, nice tight narrative. Well done.
Author's Response: Dialogue is definitely getting easier with experience. Which is good, because this story will involve allot of talking mixed in with allot of action sequences.