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The Collective - YA High Fantasy


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#1 missbee

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Posted 25 November 2017 - 12:32 PM

Getting better at fight scenes is daunting. Below is a spar between master and apprentice with a sword she is still learning to use. Mostly concerned with the translation from my head to page I guess. Too much? Too little? Do you feel you can imagine the movements?

 

...She nodded at his off hand. A rod of fire hardened wood with an inset stone, chipped into a sharp edge, a razor, was the most common companion of this brutish weapon she wielded.

He smiled for only a second before tossing it across the room. She reached and stepped for the redwood dowel, navigating it with her eyes to not grab at the flint piece wedged in its side. Her movement became a turn, dropping to her haunch over one leg and finishing with both the razor and the slavsword extended behind her.

“Balance.” She said and watched him.

In one lunge, the master cleared the distance that remained between them, bringing down the long edge of the blade near her shoulder. A seer was trained to see, and Gren could see the advance in his feet. She could see his weight on his toes, the lean of his hips. It was a seer’s blessing of Magus to predict the body, to read the subtle nature of muscle on bone on intent on feeling. The body was a book written in a language the seers knew well, regardless of weapon.

Without thought, Gren turned to bend around the slash and brought up her new tool to take in the side of a knee with its blunt end. It was all in a breath, and when contact was made, she saw Nosek’s thin boot sole at the end of the razor.

“And speed.” He added.

 



#2 A.M.Rose

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Posted 28 November 2017 - 09:31 AM

I assume this isn't the first 250 words and sometimes it can be harder to critique not knowing the characters or what is going on exactly, but since no one else is jumping in on this I will give it a try. This industry is super subjective so take what works for you and leave what doesn't. My comments below in green. 

Getting better at fight scenes is daunting. Below is a spar between master and apprentice with a sword she is still learning to use. Mostly concerned with the translation from my head to page I guess. Too much? Too little? Do you feel you can imagine the movements?

 

...She nodded at his off hand.(I'm not sure what this is a part of since there is an ellipse, but I will say, I'm not sure what this means. What is an "off hand?" If this is a fighting term I'm not aware of disregard.) A rod of fire hardened wood (How does fire harden wood? Wouldn't it just burn? Again not sure I am understanding this descriptionwith an inset stone, chipped into a sharp edge, a razor, was the most common companion of this brutish weapon she wielded. (This prose is nice, but I'm not getting a picture of this sword or weapon. And what is a common companion of the weapon? There is just something off about this sentence.)

He smiled for only a second before tossing it (Do you mean the sword?) across the room. She reached and stepped for the redwood dowel, navigating it with her eyes (Maybe - she calculated carefully) to not grab at the flint piece wedged in its side. Her movement became a turn, dropping to her haunch over one leg (do you mean she drops into a hunch?)  and finishing with both the razor and the slavsword (I assume this word is unique to your story.) extended behind her. (So wait, she catches it behind her back? And she already has another weapon?)

“Balance.” She said and watched him. (You would use a comma here. "Balance," she said and watched him. - Or is could be "Balance." She watched him. But I'm not sure why she is watching him. Or why she is telling him to balance anything. I think it's because this scene has no context for me. )

In one lunge, the master (Is this the guy in the room? There are no names and again no context so it isn't clear in this 250 words, but it might be fine with the rest of the story.) cleared the distance that remained between them, bringing down the long edge of the blade near her shoulder. (I thought he tossed the weapon to her? So he had two swords?) A seer was trained to see, and Gren could see the advance in his feet. (Again I'm not sure what this means.) She could see his weight on his toes, the lean of his hips. It was a seer’s blessing of Magus to predict the body, to read the subtle nature of muscle on bone on intent on feeling. The body was a book written in a language the seers knew well, regardless of weapon. (Nice)

Without thought, Gren turned to bend around the slash (What is he bending around?) and brought up her new tool (What new tool? It seems like you have a lot of weapons and maybe more than 2 people in this scene.)to take in the side of a knee with its blunt end. It was all in a breath, and when contact was made, she saw Nosek’s thin boot sole at the end of the razor.

“And speed.” He added. (Again comma. "And speed," he added.

So I know I left you a lot of notes, and I think the trouble here is that we have no context or understanding of this story of the people in it. I'm sure you have done a bit of world-building up to this point and so this will make more sense to people who have read anything before it. As it stands I was lost. I couldn't follow the actions of these characters and I'm not sure if there are 2 or 3 people here. I believe you can see this scene vividly in your head, it just isn't coming across on the page. And maybe this is because I am trying to read this without context. So really you have to take these notes with a grain of salt. I would recommend getting a beta reader  (or critique partner) so someone can give you notes on questions like this who have read the story in full. 

Best of luck to you.  


A.M.Rose

 

Road to Eugenica available from Entangled Teen February 2018

 

Not Innocent available from Entangled Teen Spring 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


#3 Aevin

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Posted 28 November 2017 - 04:36 PM

I feel your pain on the fight scenes. Very difficult to know how much detail to go into on the movements, when to punctuate with dialogue and introspection.

 

Getting better at fight scenes is daunting. Below is a spar between master and apprentice with a sword she is still learning to use. Mostly concerned with the translation from my head to page I guess. Too much? Too little? Do you feel you can imagine the movements?

 

...She nodded at his off hand. A rod of fire hardened wood with an inset stone, chipped into a sharp edge, a razor, was the most common companion of this brutish weapon she wielded. I have problems with this sentence. Your'e trying to say way too much with it, and I'm having trouble visualizing what it is. A staff with a razor on top? A knife? A shaving razor with a wooden handle?

He smiled for only a second before tossing it across the room. She reached and stepped for the redwood dowel, navigating it with her eyes to not grab at the flint piece wedged in its side. Her movement became a turn, dropping to her haunch over one leg and finishing with both the razor and the slavsword extended behind her. So, she caught it, then? I feel you're going into too much detail here, when a quick sentence or two showing her catch it would be better to both avoid confusing the reader, and make the prose match the supposedly fast movements.

“Balance.” She said and watched him.

In one lunge, the master cleared the distance that remained between them, bringing down the long edge of the blade near her shoulder. A seer was trained to see, and Gren could see the advance in his feet. She could see his weight on his toes, the lean of his hips. It was a seer’s blessing of Magus to predict the body, to read the subtle nature of muscle on bone on intent on feeling. The body was a book written in a language the seers knew well, regardless of weapon. We get this lengthy description of what it means to be a Seer, followed by "without thought"? It seems like she's doing an awful lot of thinking and reflection here. I feel you should condense this bit into a short sentence or two, since it feels like you're repeating yourself in slightly different words. Try not to bog down the pacing, and keep the action fast-paced.

Without thought, Gren turned to bend around the slash and brought up her new tool to take in the side of a knee with its blunt end. It was all in a breath, and when contact was made, she saw Nosek’s thin boot sole at the end of the razor.

“And speed.” He added.

As you can probably tell from my comments above, my biggest issue here is with pacing. I feel you need to focus on being more concise, boiling down a lot of this description into short, action-packed sentences. We don't need to see a detailed description of the razor, and the reader can fill in the blanks with a lot of these body movements. It's best to leave some of the specific movements to the reader's imagination to keep things fast-paced and exciting. That's my feelings, anyway. Thanks for sharing, and I hope some of this helps!



#4 BadgerFox

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Posted 29 November 2017 - 12:48 PM



Getting better at fight scenes is daunting. Below is a spar between master and apprentice with a sword she is still learning to use. Mostly concerned with the translation from my head to page I guess. Too much? Too little? Do you feel you can imagine the movements?

 

...She nodded at his off hand. A rod of fire hardened wood with an inset stone, chipped into a sharp edge, a razor, was the most common companion of this brutish weapon she wielded. [Really having a bit of trouble picturing this item. What kind of inset stone are we talking about? Like a flint knifeblade tied onto a pole? Or an ornamental ruby/gemstone worked into a metal setting on the wood? Or a stone-tipped spear? Is the razor a seperate item to the stone with the chipped sharp edge, or are you saying that the stone was like a razor because it was sharp? Out-of-context, it's also hard to picture why a scene that gives the impression of an ancient far-asian dojo instruction scene is using such primitive c. 10,000-BC pre-bronze-age weapons. I'm sure there is an explanation in the story for why it's worth this young Jedi's (sorry) time to bother to train in the art of such a blunt, primitive tool, but right now it doesn't quite make sense, in isolation? Caveman-era tools made of chunks of rough stone don't seem to merit careful instruction like, say, a finely-made katana would? Like I say, there's probably an explanation. But in isolation it's hard to understand, and the weird choice of weapon it makes it hard to visualize the rest of the scene]

He smiled. [full stop. Shorter sentences and take care with tenses. Representing the exact amount of time a character spends on doing an action might be best done whilst remaining IN the point-of-view. Like, if someone smiles at you for just a second, can you mentally process it as happening for that duration, before they've already switched to a different facial expression? If the protagonist is experiencing actions being done to her in quick succession, it might be better to just represent that succession, because it can help us feel more inside her head? Just 'he did x. Then, y! Then z, too, before she could blink!'] for only a second before tossing it across the room. She reached and stepped for the redwood dowel, navigating it with her eyes to not grab at the flint piece wedged in its side. Her movement became a turn, dropping to her haunch [haunch is a word I've almost never heard used of a human body unless someone is joking. It's generally just animals.  For fight scenes, to avoid distracting a reader, it might be advisable to use pretty common terms for body parts, even if in other scenes you might be more poetic in describing these parts.] over one leg and finishing with both the razor and the slavsword extended behind her.

“Balance.” She said and watched him.

In one lunge, the master cleared the distance that remained between them,[Full stop here instead of comma. Short sentences are often the better choice for action scenes. I know that's a hard lesson for those of us who really enjoy longer, flowier structures, and I'm in the same boat here. But if you CAN manage to shorten sentences, throw in one-word sentences etc, it can have more impact and dynamism]  bringing down the long edge of the blade near her shoulder. A seer was trained to see, and Gren could see the advance in his feet. She could see his weight on his toes, the lean of his hips [I don't quite understand this. She can see his weight in his hips? Now I'm picturing a seriously pear-shaped, large-bottomed instructor, and it's unintentionally funny. Hm. Is this more about the way he is balancing his bodyweight, so he's deliberately distributing it to different points for improved balance? That isn't quite coming across yet, I don't think...]  . It was a seer’s blessing of Magus to predict the body, to read the subtle nature of muscle on bone on intent on feeling [This sentence is ungrammatical. Have you read the postmodernist writer John Wylie? This sentence reads a bit like John Wylie. I'm not certain that's what you were aiming for...]. The body was a book written in a language the seers knew well, regardless of weapon.

Without thought, Gren turned to bend around the slash and brought up her new tool to take in the side of a knee with its blunt end. It was all in a breath, and when contact was made, she saw Nosek’s thin boot sole at the end of the razor.

“And speed.” He added.

 

I wish I could point you to some neato fight scenes to crib notes from, but the genres I read usually aren't always heavy on the swordfights. I DID like this article on writing killer fight scenes and I know I used it myself to improve choreography for a singlestick fight scene: http://www.writersdi...er-fight-scenes . I think Tip Number 6, to add onto the bottom of this list, is probably Pace The Scene Appropriately - ideally, short sentences, dynamic verbs and punchy punctuation. An action scene moves fast. The prose can go at the same speed if appropriate. Longer, flowier sentences with multiple clauses tend to read slower and make the scene's movements feel less dynamic.

 

I think it's because this isn't from the start of a chapter or a character's first introduction, but in the middle of a fight scene, but it really is quite hard to understand who is here, what they are doing, and how they are moving around the room. In context, it probably makes more sense. There is some good potential here and I can see the tone you're going for. It could be very poised and elegant. But it needs some clarification.

 

This is just my two cents here, so please don't take it as gospel. Other writers who work more consistently with fight scenes might have better advice, as I only write these sorts of scenes infrequently myself (that, and I have autism spectrum disorder, making me fairly sub-par at spacial awareness anyway!).


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#5 missbee

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Posted 03 December 2017 - 12:22 PM

I absolutely appreciate your feedback. Thank you all!

Especially thanks for enduring something like this with no context for it.

 

This was all extremely helpful!






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