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Author Topic: Readers and Writers First: Quest 1, Cheka man's novel  (Read 2015 times)

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Offline axlerowes

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Readers and Writers First: Quest 1, Cheka man's novel
« on: December 04, 2012, 07:20:37 PM »
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

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Re: Readers and Writers First: Quest 1, Cheka man's novel
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2012, 07:31:18 PM »
A noble and worthy Quest indeed!
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Offline axlerowes

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Re: Readers and Writers First: Quest 1, Cheka man's novel
« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2012, 07:44:19 PM »
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."

Offline axlerowes

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Re: Readers and Writers First: Quest 1, Cheka man's novel
« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2012, 07:45:33 PM »
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.

Offline axlerowes

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Re: Readers and Writers First: Quest 1, Cheka man's novel
« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2012, 08:09:24 PM »
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. 

Offline axlerowes

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Re: Readers and Writers First: Quest 1, Cheka man's novel
« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2012, 08:31:29 PM »
Chapter 3:

There a few errors in the first paragraph that made it a difficult read for me. I think there is a comma missing from the first sentence, and when Corday turned to her I think it was be an inquisitive look but we aren't clear on what was being communicated between the couple. But over all I like the first three paragraphs, th perspective has been reset from Eleanor's to Delilah's and we travel back in time a bit to gain Delilah's view of the events in chapter 2. 

Overall this is a much longer chapter and I was surprised at the focus.  Much of this work so far seems to be about clothes. I reminds me of a book I read this summer called "The Weird Sisters", it was about three sisters named after various Shakesperian heroines who move back home with the their Shakespeare scholar father who is propertied to speak almost entirely in iambic pentameter and make constant references to the bard.  However, the book was filled more the descriptions of what the main characters were wearing than any reference Elizabethan drama.  This story too seems to be very consumed with what the people are wearing.  You have long description of what the character is taking off and putting on.  The conflict between the Queen and the main character doesn't really progress though it does play out, with the main character getting whipped and the husband being delayed by steam harpoon.  Much of the chapter seems to resemble, at least in content-the tone is entirely different, the whipping of Kunta Kinte in Roots when the slave owner wanted to say his name was Tony.  Here the Queen whips Delilah until she agrees to be called Sarah.

The tone is still blunt and modern even the Queen speaks in a flippant casual tone., but the story seems to being taking on some very strong S&M overtones.  The main character is whipped and forced to strip in front of a woman who intends to use her sexually.  There is whole paragraph dedicate to whether the Queen could see Delilah's breasts or not. 

And we end with a brief view of the palace, well guarded not a lot of hope for escape, and the action keeps going as the Queen seeks to take her new "Sarah" to their bedroom.

Offline axlerowes

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Re: Readers and Writers First: Quest 1, Cheka man's novel
« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2012, 08:57:47 PM »
Chapter 4:


The first four paragraphs are a bit of mess. We enter into scene with character in an embrace maybe, we don't know where they are, or if they are in the bedroom yet.  I assume when it says that Queen is ignoring Delilah that it means ignoring her pleas because she doesn't seem to be physically ignoring her.  At any rate it unclear what is going on and where it is happening. I can guess it is the bedroom and Delilah isn't really aware of whats going on, but the clear directness of the other chapters is gone.

No more maybes though, this is straight up S&M erotica.  We have women whipped, tied to bed bleeding and the sexually accosted by somebody else against here will.  If these rape attempts eventually work and Delilah is aroused by and seduced by the Queen than I will say we are in straight up fantasy-porn.  The QUeen still speaks in the very current vernacular spitting out line likes "I am going to rock your world"

The Queen then leaves before she can defile and Delilah and Delilah uses this time to save her identity.  She write down who she is on a picture of her husband and hides it in a music box.  I guessing this foreshadowing also.  Delllah will at some point lose her identity and have to return to this box to find it.  It is nice piece of story telling though, we know the Queen is going to defile Delilah, but she gets a chance to save herself by hiding this piece of paper before it happens. 

 My two other complaints about his chapter:
First, the pacing. Time seems to jump around quite a bit. When is her hand untied?  How long is she in the room. It seems to be a while, but we aren't sure. Maybe Delilah isn't sure either, but we aren't sure about her perception of time either.

And Two "drawer"  really? Not artist , "drawer" not  drafter or anything else really but drawer? 
« Last Edit: December 05, 2012, 07:24:54 AM by axlerowes »

Offline Strolen

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Re: Readers and Writers First: Quest 1, Cheka man's novel
« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2012, 04:26:43 AM »
Awesome axle. That is a great idea!!

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Offline Dossta

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Re: Readers and Writers First: Quest 1, Cheka man's novel
« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2012, 04:23:23 PM »
No more maybes though, this is straight up S&M erotica.  We have women whipped, tied to bed bleeding and the sexually accosted by somebody else against here will.  If these rape attempts eventually work and Delilah is aroused by and seduced by the Queen than I will say we are in straight up fantasy-porn.  The QUeen still speaks in the very current vernacular spitting out line likes "I am going to rock your world"

I think there's a reason why this particular piece has received little attention, apart from its length.  Honestly, I know that we have a very open policy towards what is posted on this site, but perhaps we should take the time to establish some guidelines.  This piece of fiction would be of very little use to a gamemaster, has no redeeming qualities as a resource, and has the potential to actually drive people away from the site.  There are places to post this kind of thing on the Internet, but the Citadel is not it.

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Offline axlerowes

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Re: Readers and Writers First: Quest 1, Cheka man's novel
« Reply #9 on: December 05, 2012, 07:23:21 PM »
Chapter 5:

In this chapter the Queen decides to delay Delilah's rape in part because it is dinner time and in part because governmental duties have turned her off.  We get a good deal of information about the government, justice, society and the Queen's role in it all.  The Queen seems to take the "Kind word and a gun" attitude towards leadership.  She describes how she quelled food riots by both giving into the demands for food and killing the ring leaders.  The riots appeared to be caused by a breakdown of the Queen's welfare state. 

We also a get a bit of geography, there is courtyard directly beneath the queen's window, a gladiatorial arena to the left I believe and large market to the right.  I wonder if these will come in to play later in the story…..

Then we get an interesting view of the Queen's state of mind and some happenings I found hard to believe.  First the Queen sympathizes with the hungry rioters and feel that their behavior was justified.  Yet she still punishes the ring leaders, her view of government is pragmatic not moral.  She is a pure Facist. 

Then Corday enters the square and Delilah sees him.  This apparently unexpected by the Queen but the Queen then says that Corday's survival is something she desired.  Because she worried that Delilah might become "too broken" if Corday died.  When did the Queen make this choice?  Does the Queen actually understand Corday and Delilah's relationship?  It would seem that the Queen would want to engineer this chance sighting of Corday, because she says that a bit of hope will keep Delilah going…presumably until the Queen can break her.  Then the Queen says she doesn't remember what Corday looked like…I don't buy it either the Queen is just talking out of her ass, she is lying and she did engineer Corday's arrival or this a poorly thought out scene.  If the Queen is talking out of her ass we could have a very interesting character here.  Imagine a character that lies and spins facts in order to give off the appearance that she is constant control. 
Example
"I planned to have that waiter  drop that chicken to judge how would punish a servant"

If she lying than she is just toying with Delilah.

If it is poorly written scene than obviously Corday is going to play a role later in the story and perhaps the author needed to 1) justify why the Queen didn't kill him, 2) needed to inform us that he hasn't give up and 3) list some of the barriers Corday must cross to reach Delilah.

Finally we learn that Queen sees reality.  As much as she want to call Delilah Sarah and have this unbroken continuity to the relationship she knows Delilah is not Sarah.  She still treats her as prisoner and refers to her past life (Corday) and to the fact she is being held against her will.

Oh and there is another costume change for Delilah….this is the third detailed outfit change in five short chapters.

About the writing:
The scene could use a little more unpacking.  The Queen still has a style of talking that would by today standards suggest lack of sophistication and eduction.  This is an interesting choice by Cheka but I am not sure it is an effective one. It makes the Queen seem simple and unintelligent. The chapter ends on dull note and the Queen making a crass child like rhyme of the before meal prayer. 

Offline Cheka Man

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Re: Readers and Writers First: Quest 1, Cheka man's novel
« Reply #10 on: December 05, 2012, 07:24:27 PM »
If three or more of you vote to Challange it...so shall it be. I won't try and influence anyone either way in the matter.

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Re: Readers and Writers First: Quest 1, Cheka man's novel
« Reply #11 on: December 05, 2012, 07:52:28 PM »
Ok...I've been asked to say stuff.

Reasons for removing it-what Dossta said.
Reasons against removing it...I put a lot of time into making it, it certainly has good individual parts within it, and noone complained about my only other sub of that type, "The Mad Queen and her Daughter" which is indeed my only 5/5 submission so far on Strolen.com.

(Will add more later when real life lets me.)

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Re: Readers and Writers First: Quest 1, Cheka man's novel
« Reply #12 on: December 05, 2012, 10:24:47 PM »
Please let it be known that I am not just trying to be a dick to Cheka.  I think that his work is valuable, and I am glad that he is an author on this site.  I have left my full argument on the submission itself, found here: Replacing A Traitor.  More people should read it and judge for themselves.

Cheka, this is not a bad story.  I just question whether or not it belongs on this site.  Thank you for being so mature in your responses my concerns, and I apologize for both my bluntness and for hijacking axle's thread.  I will gladly remove my comments at either author's request -- both from this thread, and from the submission itself if necessary.

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Offline axlerowes

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Re: Readers and Writers First: Quest 1, Cheka man's novel
« Reply #13 on: December 06, 2012, 05:17:11 AM »
i am glad you posted on this thread, that is why I am threading it....is that a thing...threading on the internet...oh well....

I am doing this thread in part to encourage more specific discussion of content and I think you may be right after all.

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Re: Readers and Writers First: Quest 1, Cheka man's novel
« Reply #14 on: December 08, 2012, 02:28:38 PM »
Chapter 6:

Summary:  Delilah and the Queen are served a feast, yet despite the Queen's attempts to lash attention and affection on Delilah she is still suffering from the immense physical and emotional trauma she has suffered in the past day (maybe it is two days now).  The details of the food are lacking save that the meal seems to be very northern european in it is conception.  Although the meal appears to lack any bread.  I bring up the lack of information about the food because much the story thus far seems to be about the details of day to day to life in this setting.  During the dinner the Queen outlines the planets and the make up of the solar system and Delilah's inner dialog outlines her suffering and desires, but she seems to be at a loss as to how to cope with this situation.  At this point Delilah is an unimaginative blank, before being kidnapped she was a hopeful blank-a girl about to happen.  Delilah's inner dialog reviews the central conflict and the playing pieces.  We are reminded of the hidden picture of Corday, the Queens failure to remember what Corday looked and so on.  Delilah is also begining, she liked the kiss, to have mixed feelings about the Queen's affection.

Delilah and the Queen retire to separate rooms. Delilah takes a bath, there is a lot of preoccupation with her  wounds, then she starts reading Sarah's journal.  Sarah's journal at least denotes a love for the queen, but it mentions her secrets.   Then the next morning the Queen and Delilah reveiw the journal together, which graphicly describes the Queen's and Sarah's sexual encounters, all the while Delilah gets dressed in some precisely described underwear and then gets dressed in some sort of 19th century style inspired halloween costume for naught girls (not literally a halloween costume, but is an absurd outfit).       The Queen then conforms that she knows the difference between Delilah and Sarah, but Delilah is going to have to play the role anyway.  Finally they go to a meeting of the Queen's privy council, a lot of men and we are told how the rioters were executed.

In story Thoughts:  Delilah is coming around to the Queen's way of thinking.  Perhaps Delilah was really a poorly developed personality and maybe at her heart a lesbian.  I wonder if the Queen hadn't used violence if still would have been able to seduce Delilah away from Corday.  You also have to wonder if Sarah was really betraying the queen or if the queen is just paranoid.  This contridiction of love and devotion in the journal and the Queen's view of Sarah actions cause you to either doubt the authenticity of Sarah's journal or the accuracy of the Queen's perception of Sarah. 

Out of story thoughts:  This is not going well.  The story seems to be primarly focused on sex and outfits.  In this chapter we have another pointless costume change and a graphic description of sex.  Also I am not longer sure where this is set.  It appears to be some place that has beach balls and Scottish music but the description of the planets do not fit our planets.  There is a lot of pointless stuff in this chapters, we don't need to know the planets do we, Delilah's outfit doesn't need to be described in details particularly since the queen's outfit was not described.  If you are setting a scene, than you failed to set it. The prose is getting repetitive and it is getting harder and harder to relate to the characters. Take away the sexual relationship and would be these characters you would want to write about other wise cheka?