Wizard Required

Review and discuss fan fiction short stories.
kf6eml
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Re: Wizard Required

Postby kf6eml » Thu Sep 23, 2010 9:50 pm

I'm liking it. The characters seem to "fit" quite well in the Merovence universe, and Matt's personality seems consistent with the other books. The mystery has deepened, you've brought doubt into the charges against Ortho, and you've set up for a good follow-on investigation, possibly to reveal a deep and sinister plot that was set back by the war and Malingo's death, but not stopped entirely...

And now bit of criticism: The sentence "Self-interest won out, and Ayn Rand predicted it would." I wonder if you meant "Self-interest won out, as Ayn Rand predicted it would." (Maybe not criticism as such. More like an editorial remark.)
Also, this came hard on the heels of another reference to our universe. (Ozzy.) It works, but seems a bit discordant to put them so close together. (There's the criticism! I knew I'd left it around here somewhere)
Finally, the sentence itself seems a bit forced, for a passing thought. It seems that such a reference would be more humorous, like "Self-interest won out. Three cheers for Ayn Rand!" or something in that vein of internal flippancy. I phrase it that way because in this instance, it seems that Matt was using this aspect of psychology to manipulate the old man, and it worked - as opposed to his simply observing it as a side effect of the questioning. Or maybe I was reading more into it than you intended.

Well, that's my two cents, and as Dr. S can attest, if that's the only criticism I can offer, you're doing a pretty good job.
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Ortho the Frank
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Re: Wizard Required

Postby Ortho the Frank » Fri Sep 24, 2010 12:27 pm

Thanks for the feedback. Any feedback is appreciated, even grammar, especially as spelling checkers don't catch everything.

I actually considered cutting the Ayn Rand comment myself. Given a readers input, it seems fairly clear now that I should have followed my instincts. I should probably cut the Ozzy line too, but I was so damn proud of that pun I couldn't bring myself to do it.

I'm glad you're still reading and still enjoying it! Thanks!
kf6eml
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Re: Wizard Required

Postby kf6eml » Sat Sep 25, 2010 12:42 am

Both of the references were fine, it just seemed like they were a little close together. One thing I seem to recall from the original books (and you can't write in Dr. S's universe without being compared to him!) was that the references to our universe were usually made while Matt was thinking about something or making an observation. It was always used either to present his sense of humor or to hint at why his perspective was different from the locals, and thus gave him the edge in solving problems. Both of these conditions apply in this case; The Ozzy reference comes from his sense of humor, and Ayn Rand figured that self-interest was the best way to convince people to do things. Matt used that effectively, and pointing out where he got the idea (or learned the trick, if you prefer,) is perfectly consistent with the style of the series.

As for being close together, the rest of this chapter is pretty sparse with the references, and these two are back-to-back. That's all. I'm not suggesting either of them be eliminated, in fact, adding more references throughout the story (but not too many) would make this stand out a bit less, and add some fun for the reader.

For example, toward the beginning of the story, the line: "François?" Matt asked. "Let me guess: he didn't make the journey to Bordestang because he's too old… right?"

It seems a natural place for some kind of a one-liner, like: Matt asked, "So, fretting fatigue, old Francois feared faring far from the farm?"

Or some such, followed by blank looks and an awkward pause from the other two until Montmartre, who is familiar with his oddities, saves the local from terminal confusion. Matt always seemed to use sarcasm or confusing humor (out loud, at least,) either when he was disgusted or impatient with the attitude of the other guy, trying to confuse or manipulate the other guy, or trying to keep the other guy busy while he found a way out of the current danger. He certainly seemed impatient with the clergyman.

All these observations are pure fluff, when you get right down to it. The story is good so far, and moving well. There is a sense that progress is being made, and that you're not just wasting all of our time having them chase wild geese. All too many fantasy stories dwell on travelling. They go here. They go there. They go back here. Very little reason is given for all the moving around, but it does allow them to meet their 400,000 word quota! So far, the travelling has been to logical places for clear purposes, and the people there have given them more pieces to the puzzle. As it stands, I can't wait to see how they fit the pieces together, and what picture is revealed when they do! Style is all well and good, but the story is going well enough that neither profusion nor paucity of style elements will kill the enjoyment.
kf6eml
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Re: Wizard Required

Postby kf6eml » Sat Sep 25, 2010 12:55 am

I feel like I'm the only one who posts anything here. We need to advertise, and get some regulars in here for some stimulating conversation and rotten puns.

This forum is in my daily to-do list of assorted forums, (fora?) webcomics, games and other things, and things get pretty boring around here after working hours. Not much night life in Afghanistan. Talking with intelligent people, even 10,000 miles away and through a computer screen, is some of the best entertainment available here, and I do have a tendency to overdo things, so just let me know if I am posting too much.
Batchman
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Re: Wizard Required

Postby Batchman » Fri Oct 01, 2010 3:20 am

You aren't posting too much.

(Is there such a thing?)

But I'm afraid I've been gone for a couple of weeks after catching a nasty computer virus.
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cstasheff
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Re: Wizard Required

Postby cstasheff » Mon Oct 04, 2010 3:41 pm

The good (?) doctor certainly would not mind -- very flattered, in fact. Can I help it if Ortho comes up with better plots?
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Ortho the Frank
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Re: Wizard Required

Postby Ortho the Frank » Tue Oct 05, 2010 1:45 am

... says the man who taught me how to write a mystery. Don't believe him, folks!
kf6eml
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Re: Wizard Required

Postby kf6eml » Tue Oct 05, 2010 6:15 am

False modesty hardly becomes you, Dr. Stasheff. Your plots are exactly right for the stories you tell. Not overly formulaic, but not too heavy with twisty politics and nine thousand characters to keep straight. I will admit I find the plot to "Her Majesty's Wizard" pretty standard guy meets princess and saves her kingdom, but the characters, the style and the environment are more than vivid enough to make it a great read. The following books in the series get more complicated and have more characters, too, without losing the humor or the "feeling" of the world. It's like fine dining - the appetizer sets a tone, and the subsequent courses get richer and more filling until dessert, which should be so rich and delicious that you just want to lean back, undo your belt and take a nap right there at the table. So far, so good.

Ortho's foray is lighter on plot, (although it seems to be thickening ominously,) but since it is intended to be a short story, that is only to be expected. It's hard to build a complex plot and tie up all the threads in 10,000 words.

If it sounds like I'm gushing, well, perhaps I am. I have made the odd attempt to write a novel, but I lack the discipline, and lately, the time to finish any of them. (Not to mention a hard-drive crash that ate my longest work :evil: ) Maybe I'm just envious of successful authors. Or just disciplined ones. It's only human nature to want what we cannot have, and admire the people who do the things we cannot do. So there you have it. You're stuck with the envy and admiration of your audience. I know it's a heavy cross, but somehow, You'll just have to bear it.
kf6eml
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Re: Wizard Required

Postby kf6eml » Thu Nov 04, 2010 4:20 pm

The story seems to be drawing to a satisfying ending. A good piece, on a number of levels.

Now the criticism.

Charlotte mentions that she would "pedal" her charcoal; I'm sure she meant "peddle" it. Spell checkers don't do context, unfortunately.

and in the line: "Okay, then, the sorcerers did given her something..." well, you can see that one for yourself.
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cstasheff
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Re: Wizard Required

Postby cstasheff » Sun Nov 07, 2010 5:07 pm

Oh, gushing is definitely appreciated, kf6eml. As to the formulaic elements in the storyline being leavened by the characters and the setting, I appreciate the compliment -- but, in a technical sense, you're right. A friend of mine, and a long-time SF fan (of all SF, not just mine) came to the conclusion that one thing that distinguishes SF from other genres is that the setting becomes PART of the plot. For example, in THE GREEN HILLS OF EARTH, Rhysling saves the ship and its passengers from having the reactor blow up by making the necessary repairs in person, even though there's no protective gear available as he dictates the poem -- then dies of radaition exposure. How would gthagt work ifg they weren't aboard a spaceship with a reactor as the main power source? No story at all, of course. The fact that Rhysling is blind, but is also a former spaceship engineer, makes the story much more vivid, as you note about HER MAJESTY'S WIZARD. I may steal ideas, but I learn from other writers.
Thanks for the thoughts.

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