As recent posts reflect, our former community owner, quenbolyn, has stepped down from management. Her several children require care, you see, as well as her burgeoning career -- past a certain point, juggling online needs and offline needs becomes untenable, and offline needs will always be the priority. She and I have discussed it at length, along with foaming_beast, and have concluded that ownership of this community will be returned to me.
I'd like to send out my sincerest thanks to Quenbolyn for her years of service. The AS community has been through several turns, and at the height of its glory, saw over 100 active participants. Quenbolyn, and others before her, helped steer the community in the positive, vibrant direction of its heyday. And likewise to foaming_beast, for helping manage community affairs as needed.
Now, I'm sure you have questions. I've put together a quick FAQ:
Who are you?
I'm Hackslayer. Anti-Shurtugal was my brainchild. I led the team in developing the site when I was a teenager, and dropped out of most day-to-day operations during college. I've been active in the background for several years now, and maintain close links to the original AS team, of whom Quenbolyn and foaming_beast are part.
Why are you here?
Good question. The truth is, I won't be around terribly much. Like Quenbolyn, I've got some real-life circumstances that take the front seat. But, I'm here because Anti-Shurtugal holds very special memories for me. You might even say I'm having a rare bout of sentimentality. Since the rest of my founding team are otherwise engaged, I'm happy to step back in for a bit -- to the extent that I am able around my other obligations.
What does this mean for us?
Not much, at least for now. In the many communities I've had the privilege of administering and moderating, I've always found the most successful communities are the ones whose members set the tone and culture. Moderation is tough work, and I'd rather give members a sense of ownership for the space we share. So, please continue on as you were. I'll be popping in and out as time allows, and foaming_beast will also remain in her capacity of maintainer. When things need resolving, reach out. Otherwise, consider yourselves deputized as maintainers of a positive, empowering community culture.
Why not just hand over the community to someone who actually posts here?
Because I care about my brand, my legacy -- the things my brainchild begat. And that's the final word on that.
I've seen that one other person in this community has asked for feedback on their story and I was hoping to ask the same.
To give some context, my story is of the fantasy genre and I am attempting to go with a Conan The Barbarian/pulp fantasy sort of tone and feeling for it. I've written most of it out, but I've never actually shown it to anyone for feedback or comments (mostly because I was too nervous for that). I want to know if what I've got so far is at least somewhat decent or if I totally have rethink everything I've done so far. I'm just going to paste the very beginning of the story and see what you think. Hopefully what I've written is at least a smidgen better than Paolini's work.
Arcadius Bassus sat in the last wagon of the caravan rolling along the cobblestone road. He hummed a tune while examining the sword and scabbard lying across his lap, unsheathing the blade slightly to inspect it for rust. It was a good, well-crafted sword, but nothing special. Thousands of blades just like his were forged in military factories all across the Varantine Empire for its armies.
He craned his neck to look at the road in front of him. He could see only another wagon about a dozen feet ahead of him and tall trees on either side of the road; the woods were quite thick here. Everything else was obscured by a heavy fog.
So over the years antishirts have tried to point out the inconsistencies and basically poor writing in Inheritance, but he (or someone on his staff) have basically always silenced or ignored them. But I'm pretty sure if we phrase our critques in such a way, we actually could ask him legitimate questions and get legitimate answers in the next faq. So what questions would you like to ask Paolini and how would you phrase them to get past the criticism filter he's put up? As I've mentioned before, I'd like to ask why he decided to make every single member of the Foresworn posthumous characters. It wouldn't be hard to phrase in such a way that seems like praise. "Why did you decide to have all the Foresworn killed before the story started? It seems like they could have made for some interesting characters for Eragon to face."
Also if we do make a list of questions here and send them into the next faq and none of them get answered, that'd be evidence to suggest Paolini reads our site which would I'd personally find strangely cool.
So yeah, the long awaited Paolini Space Opera has yet to see the light of day. He has promised it will be out any minute multiple times and has yet to deliver on that promise in any way, shape, or form.
This has gotten me thinking.
Do you think maybe he already tried to get something published and has been rejected? He seemed to assume that being published would be incredibly easy. But response to Inheritance was lackluster and by now the buzz has long since died down. So it isn't like there is a guaranteed market anymore. Heck, this community may be the only reason anyone even remembers the series anymore.
I wouldn't call his career quite as dead as Meyers. At least Paolini hasn't gone out of his way to alienate his remaining fans. But I suspect that he has already tried releasing his book and been soundly rejected by the people he sent it in to. No one is treating him with kid gloves anymore because he's not a kid.
If this is the case he may be in the process of altering his document in an attempt to get it published again. Ordinarily I wouldn't buy it. But before the Space Opera he release one book every few years. It has been... significantly more than that now.
This presents the interesting possibility that if Paolini actually manages to get something published his work may have actually improved.
I'm baaaaaaack! My sporking style has possibly chaaaaanged! Hopefully for the better... My deliberate focus from here on in is to challenge myself not just to recap the chapter's events and snark about it (although snarking is admittedly a lot of fun) but to properly highlight what doesn't work and why, regarding plot, character motivations and prose. That's the plan, anyhow.
A deer had been through this meadow half an hour before. Or so Eragon guessed from the tracks as he kneeled there, bow clutched in one hand. She’d walked for miles with a limp and neither wolf or bear had yet caught her. He was actually impressed. A slight breeze rushed through the long grass and he looked up skyward to the mountains of the spine high above him. Clouds were gathering overhead but it did nothing to detract from the sight. There was snow at the top of the mountains and streams which ran downhill into the valleys far below. Few men dwelled here in these lands. And Eragon liked it that way. What he did not like was the mist which looked to be coming down to shroud the world. More than a few people had been lost in the mists of the Spine and never been found. For all his love of nature he did not want to become one with it just yet. But after all his efforts he did not want to return empty handed. Muttering a prayer to the spirits of earth and sky he moved on after doe into the shadows of the trees. Apparently the spirits were listening because he soon came to a little glade where the herd had stopped to rest. And there was the doe at the edge of the herd, left foreleg stretched out awkwardly. He licked his lips at the thought of venison as he set an arrow to his bow and drew it back. An explosion shattered the night and the herd bolted. He loosed his arrow but it went wide and flew into the night. He doubted he’d find it again. With a curse he turned to see the source of the explosion, notching another arrow just in case. There was a circle of smoldering grass and the needles had been broken off the pines by the force of whatever it was. And in the center of the circle was what looked to be a gem. Slowly Eragon released the tension from his bow and approached. He kneeled down to look at it. It was perfectly smooth and he could see his own reflection in it. Such a gem might be worth a great deal. Far more than the meat of a doe. Of course it also might be cursed. Eragon decided to take the chance. He touched the stone and found it quite cool. Fitting it into his pack he began his journey back home.
The sun rose the next morning to bathe the world in its light with unusual brightness for the spine. On his way home Eragon passed ice edged streams and small pools of frozen water. He walked by a rough game trail that had been forged by animals. It often backtracked and swerved but it was still the surest way out of the mountains. Besides, he enjoyed nature. After all, the Spine was one of the only places that King Galbatorix could not call his own. A cloud of misfortune and bad luck hung over it so that its very presence shielded the villages from the rest of the world. There was something wonderful about a landscape which could thwart the most powerful being to ever live. Especially one so beautiful. His gaze turned to his pack and he drew out the stone. It was strange. Every time he thought he knew it all something came along to surprise him. This stone was merely the latest. In late evening he arrived at the edge of a ravine. The Anora River rushed by far below, heading to Palancar Valley. Gorged with hundreds of tiny streams, the river was a brute force, battling against the rocks and boulders that barred its way. A low rumble filled the air. He camped in a thicket near the ravine and fell to sleep beneath the rising moon. And as he pressed on the next day it became steadily colder over the next day and a half. Then on the third day of his return journey he heard a sound which made him smile. The sound of water crashing against rocks. The sound of Igualda Falls that poured over mossy cliffs without end. No doubt the river spirits were proud of the work they had delved with such a sight. And at last he came to Palancar Valley from the north by the base of the Igualda Falls. A little ways from the falls was Carvahall, a cluster of brown buildings. White smoke rose from the chimneys, defiant of the wilderness around it. There were many farms surrounding them. The dead grass swayed in the wind. Therinsford and the mountain Utgard could be glimpsed in the distance in the direction of the Anora river. He knew the river wound onward until it reached the sea. He’d always wanted to see the sea. But he’d never had the courage to venture out that far. Eragon left the outcropping and started down the trail, glad to be home. When he arrived at the bottom, soft dusk was creeping over the world. He could just about discern the field where the merchants and trappers would set their tents when they finally arrived. It occured to him that he really should consider what to do with the stone. He could probably try to pawn it off on Sloan. But why would he do that when he could simply wait for the merchants to arrive? They could probably give him a better price for it than Sloan could. Then again it would be some time before the merchants arrived. And Eragon thought of a few tools which could be used now. He decided that he’d approach the pawn shop owner and see what kind of offer he’d make him. The pawn shop was a broad, thick-beamed building. He pushed the door open. The spacious room was warm and well lit by a fire snapping in a stone fireplace. A bare counter stretched across the far side of the room. Everything was scrupulously clean. Behind the counter stood the owner Sloan. A small man, he wore a cotton shirt. An impressive array of knives swung from his belt. He had a sallow face, and his black eyes were suspicious. He polished the counter with a ragged cloth. Sloan’s mouth twisted as Eragon entered. “Well, the mighty hunter joins the rest of us mortals. How many did you bag this time?” “No luck,” said Eragon, ignoring the sarcasm. Sloan had never liked him for some reason. Then again he didn’t much like anyone. “I’m amazed,” said Sloan with mock astonishment. “And what brings you here?’ ‘I want to sell something.’ said Eragon. “If that’s the case, let’s see it.” Sloan tapped his fingers when Eragon shifted his feet and remained silent. He was suddenly very reluctant to hand it over. “Come on—either you have something to trade or you don’t. Which is it?” Eragon drew out the gem and brought it forward. However he halted. Something within him was speaking to him, almost demanding he draw back the stone. With difficulty he set it down and as it touched the counter the thud was louder than it should have been. Sloan picked up the stone and gauged its weight speculatively. He ran his hands over its smoothness and inspected the white veins. With a calculating look, he set it down. “It’s pretty, but how much is it worth?” “I don’t know,” admitted Eragon, “but no one would have gone to the trouble of shaping it unless it had some value.” “Obviously,” said Sloan. “but how much value? Since you don’t know, I suggest that you find a trader who does, or take my offer of three crowns.” What was he doing here? He was just wasting Sloan’s time and three crowns wouldn’t be worth losing something this unique. “Right,’ said Eragon ‘I’ll, uh, be back later.’ Sloan shrugged. “If there is nothing else kindly leave me in peace. I was just about to close up and I’m tired of this conversation.” Eragon decided he’d get it appraised by the traders. The traders were a nomadic group of merchants and entertainers who visited Carvahall every spring and winter. They bought whatever excess the villagers and local farmers had managed to grow or make, and sold what they needed to live through another year: seeds, animals, fabric, and supplies like salt and sugar. He began his journey home. Home had a shingled roof and a brick chimney. Eaves hung over the whitewashed walls, shadowing the ground below. One side of the enclosed porch was filled with split wood, ready for the fire. A jumble of farm tools cluttered the other side. Uncle Garrow had lived here with his wife, Marian for years before Eragon had ever been born. It was ten miles from Carvahall, in a region that had once been populated. Or so Eragon had heard. Here and there one could occasionally find abandoned stone houses where once people had lived. But urgals had come down from the mountains and killed the men and taken away the young women. Those that had escaped and survived were too few to stay and so had gone closer to Carvahall and the other towns. All save Garrow. He and Marian had dwelled here with their son, Roran. Too proud to abandon the land their ancestors had tilled for many generations. Then Eragon had come. He saw a light move behind a window as he wearily reached the porch. “Uncle, it’s Eragon.” A small shutter slid back for a second, then the door swung inward. Garrow stood with his hand on the door. His worn clothes hung on him like rags on a stick frame. A lean, hungry face with intense eyes gazed out from under graying hair. “Roran’s sleeping, and you are late.’ A lantern flickered on a wood table so old that the grain stood up in tiny ridges like a giant fingerprint. Near a woodstove were rows of cooking utensils tacked onto the wall with homemade nails. A second door opened to the rest of the house. The floor was made of boards polished smooth by years of tramping feet. Eragon pulled off his pack and took out the stone. “What’s this? Where did you get the money for that?” Eragon took a breath before answering. “I found it in the spine.’ ‘Well then perhaps something may come of your adventure after all.’ said Garrow, expression lightening. ‘It looks very valuable.’ ‘I mean to get it appraised when the merchants arrive.’ said Eragon. ‘Well at least you didn’t pawn it without thinking of that.’ said Garrow. ‘Let me see it.’ Eragon offered it to him. Garrow took the stone and examined it. Suddenly he shuddered and his eyes went wide. “You found this in the Spine?” “Yes,” said Eragon. He explained what had happened. “And to make matters worse, I lost my best arrow. I’ll have to make more before long.” They stared at the stone in the near darkness. “How was the weather?” asked his uncle, lifting the stone. His hands tightened around it like he was afraid it would suddenly disappear. “Cold,” was Eragon’s reply. “it didn’t snow, but it froze each night.” Garrow looked worried by the news. “Tomorrow you’ll have to help Roran finish harvesting the barley. If we can get the squash picked, too, the frost won’t bother us.” He passed the stone to Eragon. “Here, keep it. When the traders come, we’ll find out what it’s worth. Selling it is probably the best thing to do. The less we’re involved with magic, the better.’ He paused. ‘And I don’t understand why you aren’t already sleeping? We have work to do tomorrow and you don’t want to be half asleep.’ ‘Right.’ said Eragon. They went to the room where they slept. Eragon slipped the stone beneath his bedroll then fell asleep. Home. For the first time since before the hunt, he relaxed completely as sleep overtook him.
It was warmer the next morning. Eragon rubbed his eyes as he sat up on the edge of the bed. The pine floor was cold under his feet. He stretched his sore legs and rubbed his back, yawning. He pulled on his boots and stared at the floor, thinking. This was a special day. It was near this very hour, sixteen years ago, that his mother, Selena, had come home to Carvahall alone and pregnant. She had been gone for six years, living in the cities. When she returned, she wore expensive clothes, and her hair was bound by a net of pearls. She had sought out her brother, Garrow, and asked to stay with him until the baby arrived. Within five months her son was born. But Selena did not survive to raise her son. Garrow did not know who the father was, or even if he was still alive. Selena had refused to speak of him. Eragon had often wondered who was his father? He wondered if perhaps he was the son of some mighty lord who might come for him some day? Or even a king of some far off land. He went to the well and drew up water to splash across his face. He then retrieved the stone and looked at it again. Once again he found himself marveling at its perfection. Surely it must be worth a great deal. The morning light caressed it, throwing a warm shadow on the wall. He touched it one more time, then hurried to the main room, eager to see his family. Garrow and Roran were already there, eating porridge. As Eragon greeted them, Roran stood with a grin. Roran was two years older than Eragon, muscular, sturdy, and careful with his movements. Roran stood and walked over to him. Then before Eragon could react he grabbed him round the neck, pulled him down and ruffled his hair. ‘Let go!’ laughed Eragon. Roran did let go and he grinned. ‘That was for wandering off into the spine and leaving me to tend the fields.’ ‘Oh come on, I found the stone didn’t I?’ asked Eragon. ‘What was it you said you were going to do?’ asked Roran ‘Oh yes, catch the largest deer in the forest. I don’t think a rock counts.’ ‘It’s not just a rock.’ said Eragon. In any other situation they would have been angry with him. Angry with him for wandering off when there was work to be done. But the work wasn’t doing any good. The winters had been getting colder and the summers shorter. If Eragon had caught a deer it would have meant full bellies instead of starvation. But he hadn’t. He hoped the stone was valuable. He really did.
I summarized three chapters into one in this edition. First off I removed a lot of the scenery porn. It is better to leave things to the imagination of the reader and merely hint at what you want. Secondly, Sloan is the owner of a pawn shop instead of a butcher shop. It seems to me that a pawn shop would be much more sustainable business model than a butcher shop in a village of subsistence farmers. I tried to make Eragon less of a brat. Also Selena never plays any serious role in the story. I don't remember why it was she couldn't raise Eragon but I doubt it was a good reason. So I just had her die in childbirth. I also gave the urgals more of a presence by mentioning them raiding Carvahall. I removed references to Eragon being poor, since it is obvious he is well off by medieval standards. I then took steps to make his living conditions less luxurious.