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Unofficial Writing Group

Tags: #Writing  #Writing Group  #Writing Circle 
  • Member
    March 30, 2019

    I'll see about having next post by Friday. Also updated linkies on first post.

  • March 30, 2019

    Delta said:

    I'll see about having next post by Friday. Also updated linkies on first post.

    How's your fracture?

  • Member
    March 30, 2019

    How's your fracture?


    Less fractured which is funny considering Falrielle.


    EDIT: On a writing note, it does give me pretty valuable data on writing.

  • Member
    June 19, 2019

    Chapter 2: Initial Disappointments

    Synopsis: Aelberon arrives at High Hrothgar and he isn’t who or rather, what the Greybeards especially Arngeir expected. Still, the Greybeards are honour bound to aid the Dragonborn. On the peak of the mountain, an old master ponders…


    Side Note: This is still in the 3rd Person Omniscient period – that’s not my thing and this will be the only time I will mention it for this review.


    Scene(s) Breakdown:

    Scene 1 – High Hrothgar (HH) I


    Navel gazing scene with Arngeir and also his introduction to the story or at least in Part 2. I quite like the poetic prose of this section as I find it gives it an antiquated feel to the story – like listening to someone from a different time talking and more importantly thinking.


    As a dialogue choice I find mixing multiple languages such as Dovah-Zul in this case to be pretty cool as it adds quite a bit of character to it. But I find peppering Poirot into the narration to be a bit annoying to read unless I have previously been given a translation of it (And it’s usually just names or terms, not whole sentences or phrases). That’s because I read under the assumption that in 3rd Person, the Narrator, while he/she can be snarky is generally honest with me and speaks to me in a language I can understand – automatically translating things the POV character knows.


    Also not sure what exactly does the following mean;


    The Thu’um and Arngeir closed his eyes, attempting to focus on his meditation’


    So did Arngeir feel the Thu’um and closed his eyes or Arngeir and the Thu’um closed their eyes? I would assume the former but with how poetic this section is, it does give me some doubt. Still, a pretty good mood setter for the rest of the chapter.


    Scene 2 – Outside HH


    I found the pep talk scene pretty fun to read for technical reasons. On one hand, it feels like a very ‘tell-y’ dialogue, to inform the reader of well… information they need to know to get the story but on the other hand, it’s Aelberon giving himself the dialogue, so I think it works very well to establish character.


    Also, how smart is Koor exactly?


    Scene 3 – HH II


    I’ll be upfront on this again: I generally don’t like dialogue in-game dialogue in fics because I already know what will happen and more importantly, as a fellow writer I have my own bias on how the dialogue ought to happen. Now that’s out of the way, this scene is an adaptation of the Dragonborn’s first meeting with the Greybeards.


    The mood/tone of this section works for me. I enjoyed the dread and disappointment for both parties involved, Aelberon and Arngeir. As I mentioned, I’m not too sold on Aelberon as the protagonist as he is a pretty ‘safe’ hero to follow: nice, humble, etc., things I am familiar with and this scene doesn’t do as much exploration and I’d like it to for the character. Now Arngeir, this I really like the story’s take on this character.


    As the ‘Mentor’ character, I’m working on the assumption that yes, he will train our hero and impart wisdom. If he has disagreements with the hero, it’ll usually be a flaw that the hero will have to overcome: calm his temper, believe in himself, etc.


    Arngeir’s problem however is that he’s racist or that at least that’s how I read the text. He does have preconceived notions, not unfounded I might add as to who or what the Dragonborn ought to be: a Nord and he just happens to know a Nord Tongue. When they summoned the Dragonborn, Arngeir was so prepared to welcome back the prodigal son… only to be greeted by a complete stranger, an elf by that.


    Yeah, I like this scene and some bits do get dull for me, having that ‘checklist’ feel but it carries the story well enough.


    Scene 4 – Throat of the World, Peak


    The poetic prose is even stronger here and considering who is the POV, it makes sense and again, I appreciate it. Still, it does a lot of the Poirot speak in narration that I don’t like. Very exposition heavy and this makes me ask: why is this scene here? It just feels like the story is playing its hand way too early on the reveal of Patty.




    Overall, a mood setting chapter that inches the story forward and an interesting take on the Mentor character. The last scene bogs the flow though.


    Vs Previous Chapter:                                                                                 


    My main concern for the previous chapter is that it’s very exposition heavy making the story feel slow and this chapter answers that by well, trimming most of the fats and gives me a clean and concise read, which I enjoy. The narration, although colourful doesn’t feel very rambly like the last one, so another plus.

  • Member
    June 21, 2019

    Chapter 3: Hitting a Wall

    Synopsis: Aelberon receives his first trial from the Greybeards – Retrieve the Horn of Jurgen Windcaller from Ustengrav and learns a new shout to varying degrees of success.


    Scene(s) Breakdown:

    Scene 1 – High Hrothgar, Courtyard


    I found roundabout way Aelberon talks about the archways or the mystery of the peak to drag the pacing down for this scene. Now that’s out of the way I want to talk about Aelberon himself.


    As of the previous reviews, Aelberon comes across a vanilla protagonist: he’s hardworking, nice, strong, smart – generally positive traits and if I were to pick a negative trait of him, it would be he has esteem issues. Now the thing I now find very interesting about Aelberon is his humility or rather how he presents/believes himself as humble.


    As a priest of Auri-El, Aelberon knows he ought be humble and whenever he feels tinges of pride, he immediately prays or blames it on his Altmer heritage. Thing is, I believe that this is just the excuse – deep down Aelberon wants to be acknowledged, he wants to let it be known that he is the greatest and its more than mere frustration that carries his outburst – he does have an ego that manifests as faith.


    I find this trait of false-humility to be pretty engaging as a reader. It makes me reread certain lines for subtexts, imagined or not, so that’s a plus for me. In fact, I did reread the previous chapters after finishing this with the idea that his humility is a false front. Now this does not make him a bad person, just… flawed and I like flawed characters.


    So great!


    Scene 2 – Ivarstead


    For this scene I am confused on the whose POV is this supposed to be and I think it went on a bit long for the punch line. Also, the discussion on Aelberon between them is not for me – it has a shilling vibe?


    Scene 3 – Vilemyr Inn


    I actually went and looked up what a ‘pertran’ is. I liked the flow of the dialogue and even appreciated the tongue-in-cheek way of adapting the in-game dialogue. It’s an okay mood scene for me.


    Scene 4 – Vilemyr Inn II


    Quite a bit of this scene didn’t work for me and mainly it feels a bit indulgent on the navel gazing. In particular is Aelberon recapping the Dragonborn Quest which so far, I think is unneeded exposition since this is direct sequel of sorts to the last one and I didn’t like that Aelberon is telling me how and why is he frustrated at not being able to use the Thu’um perfectly.


    On the mood and atmosphere, this I quite enjoyed and if it were a colour, I’d pick dark orange – very warm scene.




    Overall a quiet chapter to follow up the plot of the last chapter and add in some character interaction. Whatever the intentions (Don’t tell me), I find the ‘false-humility’ angle of Aelberon to be interesting and I will wait to see where it goes. Exposition in this chapter relies too much on tells for my taste.


    Vs Previous Chapter:                                                                                 


    Both are decent mood setters and if both chapters were to be combined into one chapter, I’d argue it won’t change the flow too much. But if I had to pick one, I prefer the last chapter more because it felt like it had more plot relevance in the exposition and character interactions.


    Nitpick: Real huskies make terrible attack dogs.

  • Member
    July 22, 2019

    Chapter 4: Tail Between Your Legs

    Synopsis: Just another day in the halls of Jorrvaskr when Aelberon finally returns from his pilgrimage. Battered and bruised – more on his pride, Aelberon, the Snow Bear recounts his adventure of the past few days to Kodlak and the Companions.


    Scene(s) Breakdown:

    Scene – Jorrvaskr, Great Hall


    I’ll start with what I think really works in this chapter – character. This chapter just bleeds with character and every character have distinct voices; from dim Farkas to prideful Vilkas, from naïve Ria to experienced Skjor, from content Kodlak to ambitious Aelberon. I generally lean on the character side of the Character-Plot Scale but that’s where I’m going to segue into the next point – I found that there is too much character in this chapter and not enough plot and thus the story grinds to a halt.


    The main focus of this chapter, Aelberon telling his story by definition makes it a big tell; I think that’s fine on its own but I feel a whiplash from the change in pace in compared to the previous chapters which are more orthodox in its storytelling. In this chapter I didn’t feel the plot advancing and in fact, discussing the plot elements of this chapter is a bit weird. There are the ‘things’ that happen but they happened off-screen. What is on-screen is people talking and reacting and while it does give good character interactions; the core of it again is nothing is really happening. I’d personally like to see Aelberon fighting the dragon though.


    On the technical front, I found the scene to be too long. I did a quick word count on the previous chapters; approx. 7k words per chapter and this one is no different but those are divided into multiple scenes and I think what bothers me about it is that this chapter/scene is not the climax/twist which warrants me to be on the edge of my scene but an introspection piece.


    On the dialogue I also found them too long although I think that’s more of a formatting concern than the dialogue actually being long.




    Overall a slow chapter that suffers from pacing whiplash from the previous chapter. Character writing is pretty good but the plot suffers because nothing really happens in this chapter, unless off-screen events are counted. Chapter feels long to read because it is one long scene and I like space to breathe.


    Vs Previous Chapter:                                                                                 


    I found this chapter to be comparable to Scene 4 – Vilemyr Inn II of Chapter 3 in that they’re both introspective scenes that dips too much into navel gazing for my tastes.

  • Member
    August 15, 2019

    Chapter 5: Moments of Truth

    Synopsis: Aelberon gears up for round two with the dragon at Lost Tongue. How he does it however causes some concern and discontent among the Companions.


    Scene(s) Breakdown:

    Scene 1 – Jorrvaskr, Bedroom

    I’m not quite sure why this scene is here. Other than the opening nightmare, which seems to be a call back to a previous event and a foreshadow, I don’t feel this scene has too much of a connection with the rest of the chapter or rather, I don’t feel this scene gives me any information that later parts of this chapter will.


    Scene 2 – Jorrvaskr, Great Hall (I)

    This scene has got me thinking on what is/are the central theme(s) of Straag Rod. At the moment, the pattern that I’m seeing is Pride and what does it mean for different people. Take Aelberon for example. As an Altmer; who are stereotyped as a prideful people, Aelberon presents himself as humble – the keyword being ‘presents’. As a priest of Auri-El, Aelberon is ‘supposed’ to be humble but evidence to the contrary. In this scene, Tilma more or less calls Aelberon out on his unwillingness to borrow money – nothing pragmatic or honour, he just doesn’t want to because his pride/ego wouldn’t allow it.


    It’s interesting to me because it forces a question if the challenges Aelberon faces are pretty much his fault. ‘There is a simpler and more efficient solution but Aelberon refuses because it isn’t his way.’


    On the structure of this scene, I feel it’s a bit slow for me. I think this time is that there’s too much movement/stage directions? on what the characters are doing and how the characters are thinking about it, so it feels tell-y.


    On the dialogue itself, I think it’s strong enough to carry the scene without the descriptives.


    Scene 3 – Riverwood, Alvor’s Forge

    The pacing feels faster for me in this one. I generally don’t have much to comment on this scene other than note that it’s an exposition on the fancy arrows and its to set up the conflict (The dragon) for the following chapter(s).


    Scene 4 – Whiterun, White River outpost

    Other than giving more blocking (Letting the audience/reader know who is where), I don’t think this scene is needed. Now while this scene does give some character to the Whiterun guards, I think it messes with the sense of urgency from the previous scene.


    Scene 5 – Jorrvaskr, Great Hall (II)

    I would argue this is a continuation of Scene 2 – Jorrvaskr, Great Hall (I) after Aelberon leaves. However, this one is in 3rd Person Limited rather than Omniscient like the others but I’ll take it as the ‘pre-normalisation of narrative’ than a design choice.



    Overall, I feel this chapter has redundant scenes that can be safely removed without messing the plot, atmosphere, and pacing of the chapter. POV is different than previous chapters – this one seems to be on the ensemble rather than on a singular character which is usually Aelberon. I do appreciate what Scene 2 – Jorrvaskr, Great Hall (I) does on making the Central Theme? of Straag Rod clear but as mentioned, I think there’s too much action in the dialogue scenes.


    Vs Previous Chapter:                                                                                 

    Chapter 5 has a faster pace than Chapter 4 seeing that the plot is in the ‘now’ rather than in the ‘past’.


    Nitpick: I’m not sold on the concept of these frag/dumdum arrows (Physics, lethality, manufacturing/storage/the logistics really) but I’ll probably suspend my disbelief when the time comes.

  • Member
    September 11, 2019

    @lis: I'll see about getting the next chapter review done by the weekend or so.

  • Member
    September 15, 2019

    Chapter 6: Sibling rivalry

    Synopsis: The dragon attacks Whiterun and the Companions rush to her defence. However, Aelberon and the city guard stand at the ready and Kodlak has a bone to pick with the elf…

    Scene(s) Breakdown:

    Scene 1 – Whiterun (Kodlak)

    I quite liked the opening paragraph,

    ‘It was utter chaos when Kodlak Whitemane and his Shield-Siblings exited the city. Passing guards were escorting frightened citizens to the city gates.  Thick was the veil of smoke, bright the glare of flame, and heavy the smell of fear.  They traveled through the masses of evacuating people like salmon swimming upstream, and Skjor flashed Kodlak a look of concern, his jaw clenching.’

    As a reader, it promises me what I should expect form this chapter – chaos and the sense of dread and retroactively reading, the chapter does what the excerpt promises. Appreciated the simple prose and the metaphor of the salmon.

    For most of this POV, I think what made it in, works. But if I were to nitpick,

    Well, I don’t give a shit. I’m the Harbinger. Best you get used to it, new blood.

    More of tonal/voice? dissonance from how Kodlak seems to talk/think.


    Scene 2 – Whiterun (Aelberon)

    What I said in Scene 1 applies to Scene 2 as well but a few other things. First, I feel that the amount of time Aelberon spends thinking messes with the pacing – not to say that I find it wrong for the character to be thinking, more of the scene/narrator implies that this whole sequence is within the span of ten minutes or so but Aelberon seems to have a lot of time to think.

    That goes to the next point about pacing – I think this scene is too long for the short plot progression. Again, this ties to the general sense of urgency of the chapter/scene; the dragon can attack at anytime but all the time spent planning/arguing tells me otherwise.


    Overall, I think the chapter does its job in building anticipation and dread for the dragon showdown. However, I feel that the length of the chapter and/or the introspection dulls that urgency.


    Vs Previous Chapter:

    Chapter 6 is much more lean than Chapter 5; I think that every scene in Chapter 6 serves it's purpose well on telling the story of Straag compared to some redundant scenes in C5.