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Beginnings of a short story to fit into a larger tale, need some critique

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Author Topic: Beginnings of a short story to fit into a larger tale, need some critique  (Read 188 times)
Syphon
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« on: August 14, 2008, 11:45:32 pm »

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With no place else to turn, I ask you, my fellow literates, to read my story and come up with your thoughts, comments and suggestions on the introduction of the ښ-B company. To help you steer this a bit, you could answer these questions with your imagination (and of course post them)

  • How is it ancient Sumer ended around 1000 AD instead of 2000 BC?
  • How did nobody else find and influence the culture of these islands?
  • Where did those islands come from?

Thanks, my friends! I really appreciate any help you can give me.
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From the corner of his eye, Teloran saw his brother barrel through the sky like some sort of meteor. Despite parachuting in tandem with his wife, Kilmeny, his brother Tan weighed as much as them together and thus came down faster. Diving after the first parachute, Tan was chasing a large box that had been dropped before the three of them, containing all kinds of supplies they'd need in this mission. They ran a family business in, as Kilmeny preferred to call it, "conflict resolution". Tan, the eldest, was the president of the company, but in the end, all six had a say in it. That is, Kilmeny and her husband Teloran, and Teloran's brothers, Tan, Fraise and Kay-ul. Their cousin Okela made six, and together they were all the employees of ښ-B, literally "To speak of blood". Their job was to mete out justice by speaking as a third party, uninvolved in the conflict they were hired to resolve. Kilmeny was a judge, called a di-kud. On the islands that their ancestors, the Sumerians, had colonised, her word was the law. Of course, as in any place with laws, there were lawbreakers. And that is why Tan and Teloran accompanied her. In their job as aga-tukl, the brothers had to make sure that, if the judgement was di-kr, or hostile, no harm came to Kilmeny. She was the youngest di-kud and, on top of that, the only female di-kud in the daga that made up all islands the ancient Sumerians had come to. As a result, a lot of anger came her way, mostly from disgruntled old men who were convinced the old ways were best, and what better old way than the way their ancestors did it. Even if those ancestors had never looked back to those they left behind when there was trouble brewing at home and all supplies present on the islands were taken for the voyage home. To add to that, their progenitors were dead for a millenium or so. Kilmeny often wondered why this was the case. 

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That's all I have so far.
Remember to try and answer the questions, please! Smiley
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EightyEight
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« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2008, 04:24:54 pm »

Okay, I'm left slightly confused by the intro, but I'll have a go.

1. Is it necessary to have Sumer end in 1000BC? How about these islanders just 'escaped' before then? If it is neccessary, then I'd ask for clarification. Are you trying to fit the story into existing historical facts, or creating your own version of history? If the latter, simply decide what was the biggest factor in the downfall of Sumer, and assume it didn't happen Tongue. If the former, then you'll have a tough job. Maybe provide a reason why the event that most people regard as the end of Sumer wasn't actually the end, and then say that the Inquisition or something killed them off later, in secret, and nobody's found out about it yet.

2. The surefire answer seems to be an extremely xenophobic foreign policy on the part of the islanders. Like, a foreign traveler stumbes upon the island, and is sacrificed to the sun god. Or whatever is appropriate for Sumerians.

3. Does it matter? Where in the world are we talking about? If it's the Atlantic or Pacific, write it off to underwater vulcanism.

Some questions of my own:
-This is the modern day, right? I'm assuming so, based on the parachutes...
-Correct me if I'm wrong, but weight doesn't affect the speed at which you fall. Unless it's something special to do with parachuting, of which I have little (read: no) experience.
-Not a question, but you might want to cut down on the jargon a little, if this is going to be the opener. It sort of turned me off, since I read at a normal pace and didn't try especially hard to remember the words. New vocabulary should be introduced gradually, IMO - just use it enough so that the reader sort of absorbs th meaning by osmisis, instead of having it shoved down their throat/
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« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2008, 12:44:20 pm »

Thank you for your comments, 88 Smiley
The truth is, I have by now left the Sumerian angle and stopped trying to fit it in. After all, it's hard (even for me) to factor in 3000 years difference. So, what I have done instead is leave the culture in the middle, other than that these people live in tribal societies but are on par with current technology. E.G they embraced technology but still have a very tribal way of life.

As for YOUR questions:
Yes, this is today, I have no clue if weight affects skydiving and I have destroyed the jargon completely, instead opting for such terms and sheriff and judge. Part of the departing from the Sumerian angle. Smiley
Thanks for your critique. I'll review whatever you have in turn now, 88. Smiley
I will post what I have now here:


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

From the corner of his eye, Teloran saw his brother barrel through the sky like some sort of meteor. Despite parachuting in tandem with his wife, Kilmeny, his brother Tan weighed as much as them together and thus came down faster. Diving after the first parachute, Tan was chasing a large box that had been dropped before the three of them, containing all kinds of supplies they'd need in this mission. They ran somewhat of a family business in, as Kilmeny preferred to call it, "conflict resolution". Tan, the eldest, was the president of the company, but in the end, all six had a say in it. That is, Kilmeny and her husband Teloran, and Teloran's brothers, Tan, Fraise and Kay. Their cousin Okela made six, and together they were all the personnel their lawband, called Scales of Judgement. Their job was to mete out justice by speaking as a third party, uninvolved in the conflict they were hired to resolve. Kilmeny was the judge, the one who spoke the final verdict. On the islands they lived, judges like her were the law. Of course, as in any place with laws, there were those that would and did break it. And that is why Tan and Teloran accompanied her. The brothers had many roles, most of which had to do with proof. Whereas in other places, the judges and their personnel would come from the place that the law was broken, in the archipelago they called home, the judge always came from a different island in order to make for a perfectly neutral party. So as a result, the brothers Tan and Teloran were Kilmeny's sheriffs, investigators, enforcers and generally, her right hand men.

On this particular island, Kilmeny and her lawband had been called in to investigate the murder on the chieftain of the largest tribe there, the Wanderworld.
Less than half a week before parachuting in, Kay, short for Kay-ul had taken in an envoy, carrying a message spoken by Sandor Wanderworld, brother to the deceased, Elij Wanderworld. They were all there when the envoy arrived. In a slightly monotonous voice, the envoy "played back" what Sandor had said.
"To the lawband Scales of Judgement. Earlier today, my brother, Elij Wanderworld has been killed. I believe this was the doing of the patriarch of the second largest tribe here, the Grimwatcher tribe. We have had conflicts about ground for years, but I never thought they'd resort to violence. But it can only be the Grimwatcher tribe. They are..". Kay looked from the envoy to Kilmeny and to Teloran before looking back. The envoy let out a noise that sounded like gunfire. "Why are you still standing here, you dumb animal? Find them!". Immediately, Tan decided on a quick incursion. He spoke up and said so. The others agreed. They liked to solve things quickly, without having to bury too many bodies. The tasks were quickly divided. Fraise, the brother who was on his way to the island for a different job, would be redirected to investigate the Wanderworld tribe. At the same time, cousin Okela would be working behind the scenes, checking up on Sandor, as Kilmeny had a hunch. And her hunches usually proved right. Teloran and Tan were going to parachute in with Kilmeny, help her to set up a base camp after which Tan would head off to investigate the Grimwatcher tribe. The youngest of the band, Kay, was too young to fully work in the lawband. Instead, he was given jobs to prepare him for the job of sheriff. Now, he was in charge of supplies and transport, a task he did with devotion and enthusiasm. That division of the tasks was yesterday. Today, Kay was heading back to the runway after succesfully dropping off the sherrifs and the judge. He hoped nobody would get hurt.

The box of supplies had come down and landed right in a clearing, easy for the brothers to reach. However, as Kilmeny and Teloran touched down right next to it, they found no trace of Tan. For a moment, they were worried, but as they heard cussing from behind them, their worry turned to laughter. "Don't laugh, I look like a bloody Serenity Tree" he remarked as he came into the open spot, bedecked in branches, leaves and other flora. Kilmeny giggled and Teloran tried to stifle a laugh, failing miserably. "Bah, Telo, you just help her. I'm heading out to find the Grimwatchers" Tan said, grunting as he walked off. Teloran opened the crate after undoing the harness keeping Kilmeny safely attached to him. "Not that I mind, but you're a little in the way" he had commented. Kilmeny was busy putting the harness away while her husband took one bag out of the crate. "The tent" he said, dropping it on the grass. Kilmeny moved to him and opened the bag. The two of them worked on the tent and in a few minutes, they had it up. A few more times they went to the crate, adding a pair of foldable chairs with a matching table. Continuing to set up camp, Teloran took a few sturdy briefcases out of the crate and handed one to Kilmeny. She put it on the table and opened it, turning on the laptop that it housed. Teloran continued to move things into the tent from the large crate while Kilmeny set up a digital link to Kay. By now, he was over half way home and he smiled when he saw Kilmeny's face in his own monitor on board. "Hi Kilmy!" Kay said, waving at her enthusiastically. She giggled and waved back "Hi little pal! How are you?" she asked him. Kay laughed. "I'm okay. Did you land well?". Kilmeny nodded. "Everything's okay. Your brother had a bit of a troubled landing, but on the whole, we're great." "Great! Anything you wanted to say?" Kay asked her. "Or is this just a courtesy call?". She nodded. "Yeah, just to let you know we're okay. I'll see you when we're back, okay?" she asked. But Kay interrupted her. "Wait a second. What was that?" Kay said. "Behind you" he said, looking spooked. "I saw it too" added Teloran, looking over Kilmeny's shoulder.
A shadow passed in front of the sun for a brief moment. "That's it! Look!". Teloran pointed, Kilmeny following his finger, as did Kay from inside the plane.
Suddenly, another shadow crossed over the sun. But this was different. The first shape had been triangular, but the other was human. Then, Teloran realised what it was.
The second form had been his brother! "It's Tan!" he said out loud. "Aw, crap!" Kay yelled as he had lost control of the plane briefly. "It's okay, I got it. But I'll have to call you back later!". A beep later, and the connection was gone. "Ehm, boys and girls, we might want to hurry" Tan's voice suddenly sounded. He dragged in something that looked like a gigantic bat. "Someone knows we're here" he said as he dropped the squirming form of a man caught up in what remained of a hangglider.
"You two decide what to do with him, I really have to get going. I don't trust this one bit".

Just as his big brother knocked a glider out of the sky, Fraise was talking to Sandor Wanderworld. They were strolling through the garden behind the communal hall, which had a symmetrical pattern to it, Fraise noted. "So, this is where you found him?" he asked, looking at Sandor, who nodded. "We moved his body, the children go here every day. They meditate and play here. In fact, if the weather is good, they hardly ever come inside." Fraise wrote this down on his notepad, just to make sure. The thing had even saved his life once. A rather unpleasant experience which he didn't want to think of, so he focused on the new patriarch of the Wanderworld tribe.
"You found him here, hm? How did you find his body?" Sandor seemed to think about this for a moment. "I mean, what position was it in?" Fraise quickly added.
Sandor nodded he understood and took a small stick from one of the trees. Kneeling down on the spot, he started drawing the outline of a body. "How strange.." Fraise remarked, looking at the drawing when it was done. "I take it you haven't made any pictures or videos?" The patriarch shook his head. "No. We do not wish for that kind of technology to sully our home. I know it sounds ridiculous to an outsider, but we believe that a person's being will get anchored to this world." He paused a moment. "Surely, your island's culture is the same?" Sandor asked. Fraise narrowed his eyes a moment. "I have no island, not anymore". He opened his mouth as if to say something else, then closed it again. "Forget it" he said, rudely interrupting Sandor Wanderworld, who was about to speak. "Who do you think did this?" Fraise asked quickly. Sandor shrugged. "Isn't it obvious? The Grimwatcher tribe. They want our pastures. They've been after it since time immemorial!" Sandor answered, suddenly riled up. "My father warned me...us...that one day, we would have to stand against them. I fear that day might be soon, sheriff." Fraise nodded one last time. "I would like to see the body, can you take me there?" he asked as final question. Sandor shook his head decisively. "No. I am afraid that is impossible. None of us know where the body is" he said. Fraise frowned. "What? Why?" Sandor sighed. "Our customs prohibit anybody from our tribe to see one of our own dead. It was horrible enough to see my brother as he lay dead. I will not do that again. Nor can I tell you where he is. That is against...". Fraise interjected with a sigh of his own. "I know, against customs" he finished the sentence. Sandor spoke a word of agreement. Thinking this over for a moment, Fraise leaned against the same tree Sandor had taken the stick from. "Aleko. I'd really like to know where Elij Wanderworld is" he spoke. Sandor quirked a brow. "Just a little saying" Fraise explained when he noticed this. "Like a spirit?" Sandor offered, eager to be able to somehow relate to this strange man. With a smile, Fraise nodded as he headed towards the entrance of the building. "Like a spirit".
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« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2008, 10:14:04 pm »

That definitely caught my attention (and held it) far better than before. I like the direction you're going in, but of course, you'll still need to fill in background for the islands and stuff.
For some reason, and I mean no offence when I say this, I just don't seem to enjoy reading your prose as much as I could. Which is strange, because it's good content. I just think the way it's written turns me off. That's probably not a problem, since it's just my opinion, but hey, my opinion is all I have.
I think that the reason is you do a lot of describing actions, but not as much describing the setting, the characters, etc. It just gets a little tiring to read action, action, action. You've got to let me take a break now and then Wink. And since you're setting this on a small, remote island chain, you can leverage that setting! Small, remote islands are beautiful! You know Far Cry - they set the game on a tropical island, and took every opportunity to show it off. You've gotta do some of the same.

But anyway - I like it, and I think it's definitely improved from before Smiley
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He who keepeth a secret must keep it a secret that he hath a secret to keep.
-Sir Humphrey

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Only a fool fights fire with fire.
-Me

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The bakerman is laughing 'cause he's rolling in the gold...
-Midnight Oil, Bakerman
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