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Readers and Writers First: Quest 1, Cheka man's novel

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axlerowes:
Scrasamax  has convinced me that the work on the Citadel should be a writers first environment.  To this end though we need readers and I wish to step forward as such a reader and I am going to try and tackle the biggest post on the site. This single piece of fiction has no votes and only one comment promising to read it.  As of this writing I have read nothing but the intro and scrolled to the bottom to see that the post in question is an entire novel or at least novella. 

Here is my mission, before I write another original or collaborative piece for the Citadel (really for myself, but you know) I will read and comment on every chapter of Cheka man massive post, and I will comment as I go.  I will focus on how I responded to the prose and message in each section.  I want to share the mental process of a reader. I urge you all to do the same: but tonight I start!  I am going in fresh, no more skimming, no random sight reading.


SPOILER ALERT!!! the rest of this thread will be devoted to my journey through cheka man's novella: Replacing a Traitor

http://strolen.com/viewing/Replacing_A_Traitor

Murometz:
A noble and worthy Quest indeed!

axlerowes:
Chapter 1:
I exported all the text into simple text, so I didn't use the links on first read.  I was surprised that it was steam punk setting, but the setting formed quickly and clearly in my mind.   The bronze colored clothing, the metal flowers, the groom with dreadlocks and gears ( assume cogs) in his hair all gave me a very clear visual and sense of connection to the setting.  Then the motorbike and the talk of Scottish music tells the me that this must be set on earth and either in alternate history or in the future. At any rate, I got some very strong imagery and basic sense for the relationships people have her.  Delilah is from a supportive family, she is naive to the world "from the untouched by science country side", hopeful and very much in love with her equally nervous young man.  The narrator also interjects things (she was like a spring blossom….Refreshing and yet so tender), suggesting that the narrator is a character or the tone of the piece will involve a bit of editorializing-nothing wrong with that  The narrator seems to have an slant for Delilah's perspective but also a voice or his/her own. 


The chapter ends on a strong note that make me want to read more.  The couples journey is interrupted by a train….I wonder if that will be relevant to the action in chapter 2 :)


There are few typos, for example

"She could not want to be in his arms again" , I think Cheka meant to write "She could not WAIT to be in his arms again."

axlerowes:
Looked at the links and I see this an illustrated story.  The illustrations are not necessary because the descriptions are already so fresh and clear, but they don't hurt and they are fun.

axlerowes:
Chapter 2

The perspective has switched to another character, Queen Eleanor and the first paragraph gives us quite a bit of information about the setting.  But before I rattle of all the facts that were nicely presented in the first paragraph, let me talk about tone.  The style is blunt and modern.  Terms like "tech" are used and "lesbians".  They are also used in very modern sense of the words.  Yet the paragraph for its lack of verbal grace is an excellent package of information and conveys quite a bit about the story.

Paragraph 1:
1) Setting: We are in full on steam punk mode, steam powered harpoons and crossbows, and cannons (though the tone suggests cannons are rare). 

2)Context: We are dealing with a very old monarchy, an England or Czarist type setting.  Eleanor is not some pretender or conqueorer but appears to be (at least in her mind) the rightful successor to a long line of Queens.

3)Conflict:  The Queen is confronted with a problem, she an enemy in a Lady Sarah.  But the real problem with this enemy for the Queen is not the threat Lady Sarah posses, but the emotional loss this betrayal represents.  Sarah is Eleanor's lover and friend and the Queen is upset at non-longer having a lover  and friend. 

4) Queen's Emotional State:  We also get sense for the Queen's emotional and mental state, which is a little off.  She is very pragmatic in her approach to the emotional injury of Sarah's betrayal.  The Queen wonders "how would she ever find a new girl as beautiful and clever as Sarah was" Sarah is already dead to her, and she only wants to fill that void.  The Queen does not give one thought to why Sarah would betray here or how Sarah might be feeling.  She loves her as a object a "beautiful and clever" object, but still an object.

5) Cliff Hanger ENDING..okay so it is not a cliff hanger because we can guess where it is heading, but the end keeps the action going !!! This fantastic paragraph ends with a ruthless, all powerful and emotionally perverse woman stopping to take an interest our hero.

Paragraph 2 & 3:  The blunt flippant tone continues with lines like VBQ= Very Bad Queen.  But the second paragraph draws immediate parallels with our current character and another queen.  It tells the story or how a former queen abused her power to fuel and emotional perversion with regard to the relationship with her daughter.  This is also a nice bit of story telling because it places the queen in context and puts me the reader on track to view her as crazy and destructive.  It also adds foreshadowing. The old Queen was brought down by her perversions and abuses, perhaps this Queen will also be brought down by her line crossing maddness. Then is Paragraph we get right into the meat of it. The Queen's plan, which is obvious to anyone who read the title by now, comes to full form.  CONFLICT: The Queen is going to kidnap and abuse our hero. Not original but fast based enough to get me to be interested in chapter 3. 

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