Novel Boot Camp – Workshop #3: Help Me, Help Me!


Welcome to week three Boot Campers! It’s hump week, and we’re going to blaze over the hump with determination! (Even if our manuscripts are a little bloody by now.)

I asked participants what the workshop for this week should be and got tons of suggestions. After a lot of thought (and coffee), I decided to go with something that allowed a bit more self-direction, so that each individual can get the sort of help they need.

So without further ado, I unveil to you workshop #3:

Help Me, Help Me!

Got a question about your manuscript? A tricky scene you’re trying to write? Not sure if you’re implementing what you’ve learned correctly? Come on down and ask for help!

The Rules (follow them or else!):

  • Each participant may post two requests for help. No more than that!
  • Requests for help may include up to 250 words from your manuscript.
  • Requests for help do not have to include an excerpt from your manuscript if not relevant or helpful.
  • The total word count of the post must be under 350 words (this allows people to get to everyone rather than getting stuck on one really long post).
  • Questions must be directly related to your own manuscript. No general writing, editing, or publishing questions. Most of these can be answered with a simple Google search or by reading other articles on the site.
  • Please no query letters. We will be having a query letter critique the last week of the course.

Post Ideas:

  • Which version of this do you like more? (Include both examples.)
  • What genre is my novel? (Include a brief summary.)
  • Am I successfully avoiding an info dump here? (Include an excerpt.)
  • Does this dialogue sound natural? (Include an excerpt.)
  • Does my villain seem cliché? (Include a description or excerpt.)
  • Is this a strong description or is it too long? (Include an excerpt.)
  • Any other questions that are specifically related to your novel.

I hope this workshop allows participants to get the tailored help they need.

Please don’t forget to comment on other Boot Campers’ questions. A helpful camper is a happy camper!

Connect with Other Novel Boot Camp Participants

Need a writing friend? Got a question? Need a shoulder to cry on? We’re there for you!

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I will be answering writing and editing questions on our Twitter hashtag as time allows. Due to the insane volume of emails I’m receiving, I cannot provide free advice or assistance via email. Thank you!

What is Novel Boot Camp?

Novel Boot Camp is a free online novel writing course focused on identifying and correcting problems in your novel. Learn more about Novel Boot Camp and find past (and future) posts here.

151 thoughts on “Novel Boot Camp – Workshop #3: Help Me, Help Me!

  1. Chase Curtis says:

    I wrote a new opening, which is the inciting incident in my novel, so my question is, is this a good opening. Tone-adult, Genre: Sci/Fi, (I can’t indent on the forum sorry about that.)

    I’m going mad, just like my mother‘,’ Avery thought to himself as he chewed his lip.
    “I guess Claire was right huh? This place is packed…” Doug said; removed his cap, and ran a hand through his thinning hair.
    “What in the hell…” Avery shuffled forward, “All this for a sack of food, I had no idea it’d gotten so bad.”
    Please flee, I cannot assure our safety.’ A voice said, ‘the Causal Stream is in flux.
    Stop please. Not again...’ Avery shut his eyes, ‘<emWho are you? No, just leave me alone.
    “I don’t get it, everything was fine a few months back.” Doug traced the line until it disappeared around the corner; “Now it’s different, if something don’t give …” Doug whistled, shook his head.
    You are in danger. You are not imagining this.’ the voice again.
    Wait you’re the alien…from the ship… it crashed and I… ’ Eyes widened as the memory returned. ‘I went to help and you tried to kill me.’
    No…’ the voice went on quickly ‘this is hard to understand, but you must bel….’
    No… No you are dead, DEAD. Your ship blew up, my friends saw it. Nope. Don’t respond to it, if you don’t acknowledge it you aren’t crazy.’ Avery of course was not a Board Certified Psychotherapist.
    I assure you, you are not insane…’ the alien again
    Say’s the voice in my head.’
    “So…the shi… sorry,” Avery sighed, “So, the, the, craf…the…, Damn it you know what I mean.

    • Julie Griffith says:

      Oh, so this tells how he first noticed the alien being in his head? I really like the first line, and it gives us a bit of backstory at the same time( his mom’s off her rocker). One thing I found confusing is all the dialogue going on along with the voice in his head. It’s a lot to take in. I’m trying to picture this place where they’re waiting for food, and keep up with what Doug’s saying, and the alien’s “conversation”. I think it’s good to explain how he got in Avery’s head, and the dialogue with the alien is a good way to give the info of what happened without just telling it. I just think it would be clearer if there wasn’t so much other stuff going on in the scene at the same time. Question: have you considered starting the novel at the crash? That part sounds really exciting. Is it because he lost the memory of it until this scene? I do like what these characters are saying-you did a good job with the dialogue and the inner thoughts. One thing I hadn’t considered is that it is probably easier to follow when you have indents and italics where you want them, but I still think a bit less commotion in this scene would help. Hope that’s helpful.

    • Lazar says:

      I agree that it would be more clear with italics, but still you are not telling us enough in the beginning. As Lee child has said, “There is no such thing as a story-shower. We are storytellers. There is nothing wrong with telling a story.”
      I know it is the new vogue to “show” a story, but it’s a balance of the two that makes for great writing.
      I’m not exactly sure what’s going on here, but I will guess. Why not start out with a something like:

      It was lunchtime on the spaceship. The slop that was being served barely passed for food and in no way justified the long line the cadets were standing in. Step and stop, step and stop. Avery was about to fall asleep. Then he heard a voice.
      “What did you say?” he asked over his shoulder
      “I didn’t say anything,” Doug said.

      …then go on to your dialogue.

      I’m not saying this is a great start, or the right voice. I’m just saying, with this, the reader is now armed with some mental imagery before the dialogue begins. That way they can start to piece together what’s is going on.

      I think you have an interesting story here. We just need more information right off the bat. I hope this helps.

    • Sherry says:

      I really like this. I do think the continual run of dialogue gets confusing for me as a reader. I had to read it a couple of times to follow it through. It might read stronger if you made some small edits. For example:

      Avery knew it the minute he started to chew his lip. “I’m going mad, just like my mother.”
      “I guess Claire was right, huh?” Doug said, behind him. He had removed his cap and was running a hand through his thinning hair. “This place is packed…”
      “What in the hell…” Avery shuffled ahead as the line inched forward. “All this for a sack of food, I had no idea it’d gotten so bad.”
      “Please flee! I cannot assure our safety. The Causal Stream is in flux.’
      The voice… Not again…
      Avery shut his eyes. “Who are you?” he thought, “No, just leave me alone.”
      “I don’t get it,” Doug said, “Everything was fine a few months back.” He was leaning in too close to Avery as he stretched to see the long line disappearing around the corner. “Now it’s different, if something don’t give …”
      ‘You are in danger. You are not imagining this.”

      Notice I did things like:
      – Add a little narration to make it clear that this is Avery’s POV. I also made it so that his statements to Doug are different from his statements to the voice. And I removed “said” but added interior attributions like “he thought”
      – Distinguished the voice with short but strong statements, and I removed attributions like “the voice said”
      – weakened Doug’s statements by mixing action descriptions that break his statements into pieces, and I always used a form of ” he said”. with anything he said.

      This definitely seems like a story I would enjoy reading.

  2. Mariah Dietz says:

    I write in present tense, however I’m writing memories every other chapter and to differentiate the two, I’ve italicized the chapters that are the memories. Now I’m trying to decide if the memories (which are all dreams of my character) sound better to remain in the present tense, like my character is experiencing them like you do as a dream, or if it makes more sense to readers to make the memories past tense.

    Thanks for the feedback!! 🙂

    • Julie Griffith says:

      Here’s my non-professional opinion. I have a few “flashbacks” in mine, and I stuck with present tense with them. I’m not sure if that was the correct thing to do or not. But in your case, since these are memories that are introduced every other chapter, I think past tense would work best. Another suggestion: If the memories are set apart by having them in a different chapter, I would do away with the italics. I’ve heard that it’s nerve-wracking to read a long passage, especially a whole chapter, in italics. Actually I heard it first hand from people who read some stuff I wrote where I did just that–long dream sequences, all in italics. If you really feel the need to have it look different, you might try a differenttstyle of font for those chapters (nothing too crazy looking). I’ve seen that done in novels that Have several characters. Jodi Picoult did this. Each character had their own font that their chapter was typed in. Good luck!

    • Chase Curtis says:

      I would say no to italics unless you are writing the characters direct thoughts. Since it is a whole separate section they would be unnecessary. Also what is the mechanic behind these dreams are they related to the chapter before or after, do they give you information you cannot convey in any other way. I ask because a lot of dream sequences seem like info dumps dressed up as a memory. I just worry about the flip flopping every chapter into a dream/ memory, how do you keep up you stories continuity. I haven’t read it so I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, I’m just asking general questions. So do they go to sleep at the end of each chapter, and then have a dream. Why not post some of the chapter, and some dream section so we can get a better feel for what your going for, and I think I could be more help. The concept sounds interesting, difficult but interesting. Especially if maybe the dream world somehow could intertwine with the real, then maybe it would make more sense to have the dreams every other chapter, again just throwing out ideas. Good luck, keep writing.

  3. Kylie Betzner says:

    I need help with the opening of my story. I’ve been told the wording is awkward and clunky. Please suggest how I might improve flow.

    The Round Table had seen better days. King Arthur made this observation from his throne atop the raised dais. Rather than face the table head-on, Arthur angled his body away and scrutinized it from the corners of his eyes. The oak surface, once polished and smooth, was now dull and covered in scratches and stains. Arthur dared assume if the seating arrangement was ever moved, the knights would still be able to find their prior places by the rings left from their drinking glasses. Arthur stroked his bearded chin and grimaced. It looked as though the knights had used the table for weapon practice or for a demonstration of proper wood chopping techniques, practices not fitting the famed table of legend. Some decorative font caught his eye. It read: if you love God, carve your name below; if you love the Devil, ignore. Arthur made note of the names scratched below; to his surprise, Galahad’s was not listed. This might have concerned him more had he not noticed the giant chunk of wood missing from one side of the table; Arthur believed his brother, Sir Kay, might be the culprit. His favorite pastime had always been whittling.
    When his eyes could no longer suffer the sight of the table, he closed them; he did not even need to look at the table to know it was in a decrepit state, for its creaking served as a constant reminder that it was, in its own way, suffering.

    • Faraway Nearby says:

      I’ve done a little rearranging and removed a few things (of course they may be essential to the story, so forgive me if I removed something critical.)

      Rather than face the table head-on, Arthur angled his body away and scrutinized the Round Table from the corners of his eyes. It had seen better days. The oak surface, once polished and smooth, was now dull and covered in scratches and stains.
      Arthur stroked his bearded chin and grimaced. It looked as though the knights had used the table for weapon practice or for a demonstration of proper wood chopping techniques, practices not fitting the famed table of legend. Some decorative font caught his eye. It read: if you love God, carve your name below; if you love the Devil, ignore. Arthur made note of the names scratched below; to his surprise, Galahad’s was not listed.
      This might have concerned him more had he not noticed the giant chunk of wood missing from one side of the table; Arthur believed his brother, Sir Kay, might be the culprit. His favorite pastime had always been whittling.
      When his eyes could no longer suffer the sight of the table, he closed them; he did not need to look at the table to know it was in a decrepit state, for its creaking served as a constant reminder that it too, in its own way was suffering.

    • Julie Griffith says:

      I wouldn’t call it clunky, maybe a bit cluttered, but not clunky. In my opinion, it could benefit from some surgery. The first paragraph and the table description goes on a little long, and you don’t want your readers’ eyes to glaze over this early on. Maybe cut the sentence about the rings from the glasses–it’s less interesting and not as humorous as the other descriptions. The previous sentence could go, too, because that part does seem awkward to me–I can’t imagine him noticing all these details when he’s just seeing it through his peripheral vision.

    • Chase Curtis says:

      I think you are trying to show how the round table, much like Arthur has aged. So going from that assumption I would say try and deepen this metaphor a bit. Show Arthur’s tiredness more, his arthritis acting up, then have him think how the table much like him has seen better days. Also why is it in disrepair, is his kingdom crumbling, can he not afford to repair the table. (Kay is not really Arthurs brother, they were raised by the same ward.) Where is Merlin in all this? New thought maybe have Arthur talk to the table, just sit there and have a discourse with the table, have him ask it questions to which it of course doesn’t answer but make he questions answers obvious to the reader. Ex. “You have been a good table, worn now though you may be, many nights have we spent together.” “Yes I know your just a table but who does a King have to speak with so freely as his table.” “Merlin, yes we used to have wonderful discussions, but it’s been many years since his wizened face has graced my hall.” At the thought of the wrinkled old wizard Arthur chuckled, “Easy now, no point to get so insulting, who are you to call me old, Your no sapling.” Arthur scoffed, shook his head, “Of course I’m the one talking to a table,” he took a long drink drained his glass.
      Idk just thoughts, you could even make the dialogue internal, I was just giving you some examples. I like the descriptions though, and your style, keep going, your getting there.

  4. Kylie Betzner says:

    Request #2:

    I have a character named Gregory who goes by the name of Merlin. Everyone thinks he’s a wizard. There is one scene where he goes off by himself and I reveal that his real name is Gregory but he’s been going by Merlin for so long. Do I refer to him in the narrative as Gregory or keep calling him Merlin?

    • Julie Griffith says:

      Wow, that’s a tricky one. Hmm. So, you reveal that his name is really Gregory, but everyone will still refer to him as Merlin throughout the rest of the book because he’s still going to maintain this ruse or whatever, correct? Personally, I would stick with calling him Merlin, because if he’s been going by that for a very long time, it’s probably kind of become who he is- like it’s just as natural, or moreso, than his real name. Good luck with this one!

    • English Tim says:

      LOL, Both! With a gag this good, keep it running through the novel by using the least appropriate name at the most appropriate time. I want to buy this already!

      • English Tim says:

        I knew a bloke who changed his name. Everyone called him by the new name, but then changed it back to the original again. Well, everyone switched again and called him by his original name. Not one person continued to call him by the name he had once changed to.

      • Kylie Betzner says:

        Thank you, English Tim. I’m on Twitter @kbbetzner if you want to follow my progress.

        I appreciate the support. What a nice thing to say:)

    • Chase Curtis says:

      is he masquerading as Merlin the wizard, or is this just a fake name he used in an alternate Arthur legend. I would still call him Merlin though, just for ease or reading, if you tell me his name is really Gregory, I’ll get it, maybe even have characters who knew him before he was Merlin, call him Gregory but everyone else should just call him Merlin. Also a big part of this question is whether or not he is masquerading, is he pretending to be Merlin or is it just a nickname, why did he change his name. Because say if you killed a guy then moved and changed your name, just because you admit to me your real name doesn’t invalidate your reason for hiding your identity to begin with, just brings me in on the secret. A name is how you think of yourself, or how the world perceives you lots of people have more than one name, Mom will call you pumpkin, Dad calls you sport, your friends calls you G-dawg, Grandma calls you Gregory Prince, your wife calls you Greg. But who does Gregory see himself as, when he introduces himself to new people what name does he use, that is the name that you call him in the story. Because that is his name to him. Sorry if that was confusing, I tried. Again I think you have some interesting ideas, so I want to find out more, I’m intrigued.

      • Kylie Betzner says:

        Thank you. No, I follow. He goes by Merlin because the name Gregory just didn’t sound “wizardy” enough.

  5. Faraway Nearby says:

    What if you made a few slight changes when you introduced the voice – although admittedly, it may be easier to follow with the correct italics & indents.

    ‘Please flee, I cannot assure our safety.’ the voice continued, ‘the Causal Stream is in flux.’
    ‘Stop please. Not again…’ Avery shut his eyes and hoped he hadn’t muttered aloud, ‘I can’t deal with this right now.’
    Doug gave a low whistle and shook his head as he traced the line until it disappeared around the corner. “I don’t get it, everything was fine a few months back. Now it’s different, if something don’t give …”
    You are in danger. You are not imagining this.’ the voice again.
    Avery tried desperately to ignore the voice and focus instead on what Doug was saying. But the voice instantly overrode …

    I think this section works really well.
    ‘No… No you are dead, DEAD. Your ship blew up, my friends saw it. Nope. Don’t respond to it, if you don’t acknowledge it you aren’t crazy.’ Avery of course was not a Board Certified Psychotherapist.
    ‘I assure you, you are not insane…’ the alien again
    ‘Say’s the voice in my head.’

    • Faraway Nearby says:

      Sorry that was in response to Chase – the page much have jumped because I took too long thinking and you posted in the meantime 😦

  6. Ashley Harman says:

    I’ve had this question for awhile now. I start my story with a prologue, however the prologue takes place 16 years before the actual story starts and it’s narrated by a character mentioned throughout the story, but never makes a reappearance. It sets different tone from my first chapter. It really is a backstory to two of my characters’ pasts and it shows my antagonist’s greatest crime. I’ve be wavering on keeping it or not.

        • Julie Griffith says:

          Sounds okay to me. It would be like a prologue at the beginning of Harry Potter showing Voldemort killing Harry’s parents–but that would have given away the fact that Harry was special before the owl arrived with the letter. There’s always a risk with prologues, but if it’s done well, I think it’s fine.

    • Sherry says:

      I’ve come across many good stories (and movies) that start with a defining moment in a character’s life, and then the next chapter opens with “16 Years Later”. A lot of time, there is no narration, just action showing what happened. I think it would work fine. But is it possible the narrator could come back in toward the end of the novel, tying the ending back to the beginning?

  7. Hailey says:

    Question #1
    I’m pretty sure this won’t make much sense to anyone, but this is a part of a chapter that’s been bothering me for awhile. What’s happening here is my introduction of 10 gods. There’s an 11th one, Fate, but it was the one that brought the mortal characters to the hall the gods are in, and I described it then. My problem is, I think there are too many names and descriptions, maybe borderline info dump?

    . . . The two thrones were no longer empty, but occupied by human-like forms. On the left, a woman shaped from golden light and robed in flame: Maratae, the goddess of life. On the right, a man with black skin and indigo eyes, surrounded by darkness: Taryen, the god of death.
    After them, minor god and goddesses began to appear. Ayyarayail, goddess of achievement, with her metallic skin and hair; Rannoan, god of travellers, a brown-haired man in dusty Elvin garb; Rennia, goddess of healing, black-haired and dressed like her mortal followers; Maanor, god of warriors, scarlet-skinned with gold eyes and golden chain mail; Ronan Sharra, goddess of nature, with chestnut hair, her gown and veil of leaves and vines; Jenki, god of unrest, pale-haired and dressed in simple blue; Kiell, god of justice, a small man in the robes of a Karator Shaema’an; and Sarriq, goddess of guidance, shrouded completely in a deep blue robe, hands wrapped around an elaborate staff.

    • Ella says:

      This kind of scene is always tricky. After about two gods, my eyes started to glaze over. A few questions (note that I’m saying ‘gods’ for ‘gods and goddesses’ to save space):

      1. Are you writing from a limited or omniscient point of view? If limited, do the mortals know the names of all the gods?

      2. Is any of these gods discussed before this scene in the book (discussed enough that the reader would recognise him/her)?

      3. Is the rest of the scene some kind of council scene or another scene in which the gods are interacting with one another and/or with the humans? If so, are all the gods involved, or only some? (From your second question, the answer seems to be ‘yes and yes’.)

      Two possible solutions come to mind:

      1. Introductions! Don’t describe any of the minor gods in detail at first. (E.g., ‘After them, the minor gods and goddesses began to appear, all in human form but otherwise so different in face and clothing that none looked alike. From one side, golden chain mail drew the attention of Hobnob the Warrior; Sweetpea gasped at rich, swirling gowns of chartreuse and cerulean.’ Of course you’d substitute a few of your characters and have them notice a few details that would catch their interest — probably not those colours!) Then have the gods introduce themselves in their own words. This is only slightly better than what you have, though, so even better might be…

      2. Subtle introductions! Again, describe without describing in detail. Then, provided that the humans know which god is which, slip an introduction into the narrative each time a new god speaks: ‘The tinkle of shaken mail interrupted him. “I resent that remark,” growled Maanor; his scarlet face turned almost purple.’

      May I add a comment that’s not in answer to your question? I think you may want to rethink your naming system, which appears (at least from these excerpts) to suffer from the same problems as the that in the Wheel of Time series. My blog post on names says pretty much everything I was about to say here.

      • Hailey says:

        1 Limited, and yes. 2 Nope. 3 Yes, but only two of the characters are humans.

        1 & 2 What I’ve posted here is pretty much all the speaking/interacting/moving that the minor gods do. I think Rannoan says two sentences that you can’t see. Fate, Maratae, and Taryen do most of the talking. How I’d stuff more description into that, I have no idea.
        A thought I have, though . . . I could chuck this scene completely, or change it’s purpose, and flesh out the blessings into eight scenes. Have the major gods do all the talking they do, and have the minor gods show up later (dreams/ real life?) to chose their two people?

        About the name thing: they are a bit indistinct as to the different cultures, I know, but sadly I do not have the language knowledge to really fix that. I’ve given up and proclaimed my separate languages dialects of the same base language.
        Thanks for the help!

        • Ella says:

          I think that your idea of having the two major gods do the talking and letting the minor gods appear more gradually is probably the best solution. You can still have the minor gods be present in the scene — they just needn’t all be described.

          I should have explained a bit more about the names; I’d forgotten that the post on names started out about making different cultures distinct by names. I didn’t mean that so much as the problems that they appear (at least to me) to be made up on the spot and, thus, difficult to pronounce consistently. When is e silent and when is it pronounced? I’m guessing ‘Jade’ as in English, but is Zeredain ‘zeer-dyen’ or ‘zeh-reh-dyen’? Is yy pronounced any differently from y, or hh from h, or q from k? Does c have the sound of s before y, as in English, or of k? … you get the idea. It generally works best if each letter (or cluster, since you’re using things like ai and sh) corresponds to one pronunciation everywhere. Also the word Shaema’an is a fairly obvious disguisement of the word ‘shaman’. It’s perfectly acceptable to use a word like ‘shaman’ if that fits — it doesn’t draw attention to itself the way something like ‘Shaema’an’ does. I hope this helps! I do think that making your pronunciations and spellings consistent would help your problems in these two scenes — it would take away the added layer of difficulty of sounding out the names.

          • Hailey says:

            For the most part, the pronunciation is similar to English, with a few odd vowel combinations. (ia = ‘eye-uh’ and Y’s are strange, etc.) I don’t have a pronounciation guide written up yet, but I could if you really want one. And it’s essentially the same for all the languages, except that a couple tend to add letters. Ronana is a Faerie name, but if it was a Draconian word, it’d be spelled more like Ronnanna. Zeredain is pronounced ‘zear-dane’, it’s Elvin. And Shaema’an is a play on the words sha ‘no’, and ma’an ‘war’, it means ‘peacekeeper’. I did originally use ‘shaman’, but if the Karator aren’t human, from a different world, and don’t speak English, why should they have an identical word? It has to have mutated, so slightly different works for me; it’s like English and French.
            This is part of Chapter Seventy, so not the first time you see this kind of thing; I can probably introduce my languages before this dump of names, so readers can pronounce them.
            I feel like I’m taking up excessive amounts of space . . .But this is helping a lot. Forces me to think things through more, which I usually don’t do.

    • Julie Griffith says:

      The first paragraph is wonderful. I love the descriptions of these two. The next paragraph just contains too much information, as you feared. Not knowing your story the way you do, and how these gods will be involved later, it’s hard for me to suggest a better way to do it, but I’ll try. I’d either cut this whole part and then spread it out, introducing a couple at a time throughout the scene, or at least cut the descriptions of thier appearance and just list their names and titles, saving the descriptions for later if they appear again. It sounds like a fascinating story. Good luck, and sorry I can’t be of much help here. 🙂

      • Hailey says:

        Yes, I’m going to do something like that. It’ll utterly mess up the progression of the novel from that point, but oh well. What I want doesn’t matter; the story has a mind of its own.

    • Chase Curtis says:

      Yeah this is confusing, the names are long and complex I would try and maybe make up some mythological stories, even write them in the style of myths, and just throw them in at the first. This way at least people have more of a grasp of who these gods are. Personally for me I would do the myths but I would still go in and bust this up, if your going to do it why not stretch it out, make each of the gods entrance more spectacular, maybe even have one on one discourse with the characters, like taking them on a magical journey etc. etc. Personally I love stuff like this the deeper and more intricate the better. I like books I have to read a few times to really catch everything. But I don’t know if the other half feels the same way. I like it though, but I really do think you could expand this out, you could almost devise an entire book to just describe and explain this many gods, and that would be a really good book I think. Keep on keeping on. Life’s a garden dig it.:)

      • Hailey says:

        Thank you! I might do the insert myths thing, because this is really all you see of the minor gods, and it doesn’t do them justice. I actually have a myth for Ronan Sharra somewhere. Might have to dig it out and rework it.

    • Sherry says:

      I definitely like the first paragraph, and agree the second is just too much for the reader to take in. But I do think the second paragraph could be achieved if done more some summary form; such as: “After them, eight more appeared. Four gods taking their place on the right; four goddesses opposite on the left…. “

  8. Hailey says:

    Question #2
    This is farther along in the same chapter. There are 16 mortal characters, each minor god/goddess (8) has chosen 2 mortals to give their blessing. I’ve cut some of the in-between-blessing stuff to keep within the word count. The narrator is the character Mara. The problem: I think readers are going to lose track of all the names and not remember who is who, or what one god represents. Also, is 27 names (including major gods) too many for one scene?

    . . . Rennia, rose from her place to stand in front of the group, smiling kindly.
    ”I have chosen the Orrannai and Tllkk.” . . .
    . . . Rennia was replaced by Maanor. He announced, ”I have chosen Sharra and Zeredain.” The choice seemed out of character for a warrior god, but no one commented.
    After him came Forest-shade. An unpredictable goddess by legend, this time she chose obviously: ”Ronana and Ziakel.”
    Jenki rose next. ”I choose Swift and Isran.” When the Shape-shifter stood, he paused. Then his form changed from his Elvin guise to a slender being, all silver, body indistinct through a sheath of mist – Isran’s true form.
    Jenki was followed by Ayyarayail. The goddess stated clearly, ”I have chosen Nartanaeja and Zyq.”
    Kiell replaced her, calling, ”Dreyan and Myyenna.” Out of the corner of her eye, Mara saw Dreyan flinch before he rose to kneel in front of the god.
    Second-to-last was Rannoan. ”I choose Mara and Jade.” The priestess released a breath, and rose. Jade followed. . . .
    . . . They rejoined the group as the last goddess, Sarriq, came forward. Her choices were obvious: ”Jahhran and Cyyl.”

    • Julie Griffith says:

      Is the reader very familiar with the 16 mortals at this point? If so, then listing thier names might not be too confusing, but since the gods were just introduced earlier in the chapter, i think the reader will have to go back to find out which god represents what. 27 names is an awful lot for one scene.

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