Might as well copy pasta mine here: title pending (Its about France though)

Might as well copy pasta mine here: title pending (Its about France though)

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dpfarce

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Feel free to point out any glaring grammar fails. There may be many.

Blah blah blah, generic stuff about not wanting to be offensive, its just a story, although I find that the 'any resemblence to events or people real or fictional is purely coincidental' in a HISTORICAL FICTION work is an indefensible statement.


(The formatting won't show up properly here, so I've attached a pdf.)

Story for EUIV.pdf
 

Lalalilo

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Quite ironic that the person most actively giving out his own opinion, has yet to receive any sort of feedback. But never fear, what are fellow would-be failed aspiring writers for ;)

What I liked about the story:
- Good and to the point action sequences. Pretty thrilling with a nice pace - quite hard to do properly. They usually tend to drag on.
- Nice and pleasant style of writing.

What I didn't like (sorry it's always easier to criticize:p )
- Way too much jumping around in time, especially to periods not really in the EUIV timeline. I'm not saying it shouldn't be done, but IMHO there was too much of it and took up to much of the story, especially since it had little connection story wise to the characters from the earlier parts. As an epilogue it would suffice, but I felt the story needed to focus more on Alan, Erwan and the British chap. This leads us to...
- A lack of focus. There's not always a need for a central theme, but I felt no real connection between the various sub-stories. And the ending with the nationalism just left me flabbergasted. Where did that come from?

Overall the story started out interesting enough, the style of writing kinda lured you in, then came the really interesting fun of the action sequence, and just when you were hoping for things to really heat up (a fight for where to strike next Nantes or Renne, British interests, Brittany's fight for survival/independence) it turns to the whole Moltke/Bismarck thing and things start to go downhill fast with a meh ending.The style was there, but the story just didn't go anywhere. All in all it was a good read, but I felt more of a disappointment as my expectations were higher.
 

dpfarce

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Quite ironic that the person most actively giving out his own opinion, has yet to receive any sort of feedback. But never fear, what are fellow would-be failed aspiring writers for ;)

What I liked about the story:
- Good and to the point action sequences. Pretty thrilling with a nice pace - quite hard to do properly. They usually tend to drag on.
- Nice and pleasant style of writing.

What I didn't like (sorry it's always easier to criticize:p )
- Way too much jumping around in time, especially to periods not really in the EUIV timeline. I'm not saying it shouldn't be done, but IMHO there was too much of it and took up to much of the story, especially since it had little connection story wise to the characters from the earlier parts. As an epilogue it would suffice, but I felt the story needed to focus more on Alan, Erwan and the British chap. This leads us to...
- A lack of focus. There's not always a need for a central theme, but I felt no real connection between the various sub-stories. And the ending with the nationalism just left me flabbergasted. Where did that come from?

Overall the story started out interesting enough, the style of writing kinda lured you in, then came the really interesting fun of the action sequence, and just when you were hoping for things to really heat up (a fight for where to strike next Nantes or Renne, British interests, Brittany's fight for survival/independence) it turns to the whole Moltke/Bismarck thing and things start to go downhill fast with a meh ending.The style was there, but the story just didn't go anywhere. All in all it was a good read, but I felt more of a disappointment as my expectations were higher.

Thanks for the feedback.

It's also quite ironic that the person giving out grammar advice misses quite a big grammar fail in his first paragraph, but such is life. I'm glad you enjoyed the 'action sequences', I was worried that I may have trivialised warfare a little too much. That is part of the reason I avoided another major battle at Rennes. The other reason is that the central focus of the story (perhaps I should have left in the 200 word summary) was how a seemingly insignificant event that occurs during the EU4 timeframe, i.e. the British landing in Quiberon (compared to say, the fall of Constantinople, discovery of the new world, reformation, enlightenment, Waterloo, etc) could have drastic differences on Europe as we know it today. I hypothesise that a successful Quiberon and a Kingdom of Brittany opposed to the French on their eastern border, and Prussia/Germany on the western border, may have changed the result of the Franco-Prussian war, in favour of Prussian militarists leading to much harsher territorial concessions instead of Bismarck's more constrained demands. The existence of an independent Brittany may have also changed the views of Ernst Renan (French historian and political theorist), who suddenly threw out his anti-semitism, racism and devout religion (his earlier works were related to the language of Christian texts) and wrote about French Unity, fired up by French nationalism following French defeat in 1871. This is perhaps even more surprising as Renan was also a reader of German theorists on the nation, such as Fitch and Herder. Born in Brittany, and therefore not French in this alternate timeline, Renan would therefore be unlikely to be inspired by French national ideals and instead be devoted to the 'ethnic' nationalist cause, continuing to follow German and religious theory on the nation and applying it to Brittany.

Although you are right, it is too much to expect the reader to have the exact same library of knowledge that I have. But I didn't want to write 'just another Michael Bay film', full of action, fun, but not really much substance. Again I should have taken my own advice and probably expanded this into some form of novel, where the serious ideas of European Nationalism can be more thoroughly explored, and justice given to this subject. Perhaps I could also have tried harder to explore the varying types of nationalism within the EU4 timeframe, akin to your suggestion, although considering nationalism as a modern concept was still in its infancy I probably would have struggled to find a legitimate reason for a sudden display of pan-European patriotic fervour.

I hope by 'flabbergasted' you mean surprised or shocked, and not disgusted or offended! The alternate Europe of course is different from real Europe, and I was particularly careful to avoid mentioning any specific countries. If anyone should be offended by the conclusion it should be the (few) socially-aware Australians. As Australia is a country so far away from basically everything, we are shielded from many troubles that even developed parts of the world face, for example, tensions between migrants and locals in (real life) Europe. In a world where ethnic (German, and by extention, Breton) nationalism triumphed instead of civic (French) nationalism, I can only logically conclude that this tension would even be worse. In this round-about way, in a world where such a small change in history can trigger such a massive change in modernity, this is a fictitous-thesis arguing for greater integration of history in the education system. But again, you are right in that I should have accounted for the fact that my readers don't get access to my brain through telepathy, and might get lost wading through many sudden time jumps.

Again, no offence was intended to anyone but ignorant Australians. :)

If I ever get a chance to work on a story like this again, I will be sure to to take your advice and write a meaningful story exploring morals and ethics, but without sacrificing continuity and action.
 

Mjarr

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To keep it short:
(Purely subjective views - obvious disclaimer is obvious. I apologise in advance if this sounds slightly terse, but no offence intended.)

+Well utilised beige prose.
+Overall quality is solid and something I could imagine to find in random novella collections.

+-Beige prose to the point of it feels you are trying too hard to emulate Ernest Hemingway. This is not really a major complaint given each style has their own advantages and disadvantages, but the further I kept reading the scrapbook-ish and disconnected nature of the story left such strong impression it was trying too hard.
-Extreme redundancy caused by the style and complete aversion to passive voice even in places where it would - in my humble opinion - fit better. It is not a plague and cancer to be avoided after all.
-Explaining things in narration to which dialogue really should speak for itself. Example:

Alan looked up at his commander. He apologised. “Sorry. I was held up by a constitutional priest.”
“I am terribly sorry.” he apologised. “What are you up to, Sire?” he asked. “I think my explanation makes no sense.” he thought out loud. “My Hovercraft is full of eels!” he shouted. <--- Notice a pattern there? Unless there is specific reason to emphasise the action again, the dialogue should speak for itself. If the entire style was similar to 18th to 19th century purple prose or perhaps clever mixture of purple prose and beige prose, I would award style points but instead it creates pointless conflict as far as technicalities go.

Alan looked up at his commander. “Sorry. I was held up by a constitutional priest.”
And another one:

“...Troops loyal to the Count are already engaging republican forces in small skirmishes, and raiding their supply convoys. We have several cities loyal to us that would facilitatean invasion by...”
“I appreciate your request, Colonel,” the aristocrat interrupted while stroking his beard.
Instead:

“...Troops loyal to the Count are already engaging republican forces in small skirmishes, and raiding their supply convoys. We have several cities loyal to us that would facilitatean invasion by—”
“I appreciate your request, Colonel,” the aristocrat said while stroking his beard.
Once again unless there is specific reason to emphasise the action (or there is some deeper rhetorical purpose in that, which I doubt given the length and nature of the story) which feels somewhat out of place in midst of beige prose to begin with, — is fine and speaks for itself.

Overall engaging and interesting collection of viewports with slightly disconnected nature. Of course I feel that is entirely intentional than oversight.

Edit: Just to add I believe you are quite comfortable with your take on beige prose and despite the feedback I must stress: there is nothing wrong with sticking to that. I for example, tend to indent paragraphs and apply double space after periods simply because I like such style and it will be a cold day in somewhere before I would drop that off, though I am perfectly aware it is leftover from bygone age of typewriters.
 
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dpfarce

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+-Beige prose to the point of it feels you are trying too hard to emulate Ernest Hemingway. This is not really a major complaint given each style has their own advantages and disadvantages, but the further I kept reading the scrapbook-ish and disconnected nature of the story left such strong impression it was trying too hard.

(If you'll believe me,) I've never actually read anything written by Ernest Hemingway. My school work was focused mainly on Australian authors (as I live in Australia) + Shakespeare. I had to google who Hemingway was (I knew of the name in passing, but none of his books) and also a quick summary of beige prose (never heard that term before!!) I suppose I should take being compared to such a renowned author as a compliment! :)

My aversion to the passive voice has come really for two reasons; firstly my teacher's absolutely fanatical devotion to the active voice, and secondly, a desire to confirm to time/word limits during exams :)

I suppose it is ironic then that I go and waste those words spewing redundant narration when dialogue is sufficient! Nobody has ever pointed this out to me, and I've been writing like that for as long as I can remember. I'll definitely keep this in mind for my future works, but I've never considered this practice as redundant before. I will also take your advice and be more open minded to using passive voice in the future, but I don't forsee myself making much progress.

The Scrapbook-ish nature/discontinuity was a vain attempt at squeezing something that probably should have taken 20,000 words into 5,000. Not only did I end up trivialising the seriousness of nationalism, I also completely destroyed the flow of the story. If given another chance, I will definitely attempt to fit my exploration of nationalism without compromising the story's integrity.


Thanks for the feedback.
 

Mjarr

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I suppose it is ironic then that I go and waste those words spewing redundant narration when dialogue is sufficient! Nobody has ever pointed this out to me, and I've been writing like that for as long as I can remember. I'll definitely keep this in mind for my future works, but I've never considered this practice as redundant before. I will also take your advice and be more open minded to using passive voice in the future, but I don't forsee myself making much progress.
To be honest it, is not really an error per se but overall when one considers the context of written dialogue unless you are writing something akin to fairy tale or children's book where it's much more common or you have specific reason to emphasise the action or to set a tone one cannot really indicate by words alone, it does sound odd when someone says “Sorry.” and the narrator\narration specifically apologises alongside. Once again this is strictly context-based and can be even stylistic choice to some degree, but given the overall tone of the your text with clear less-is-more mindset it stands out more than a sore thumb.

As for the passive voice I should have been more specific that there are only few bits where I believe they would fit better without greatly altering the sentence or paragraph altogether, but that of course is really fine tuning than anything else. One random example:

Then came the bayonet charge. He was pumped. The enemy were not. They ran from the field with their flags between their legs, and abandoned their artillery which overlooked the battlefield. Victory was theirs.
vs

Then came the bayonet charge. He was pumped. Same could not be said of the enemy, for they were fleeing like a rabble; abandoning colours and artillery to where they stood mere moments ago. Victory was theirs.
A cannonball knocked off the rider beside him. Erwan snapped back into reality. He looked back at the British artillery position and realised that he was not out of the woods yet. A republican flag now flew over the British guns that fired indiscriminately at their former owners. To make matters worse, the routing republican soldiers rallied at the sight of their comrades and managed to reform at the sound of their hideous song.
vs

A cannonball knocked off the rider beside him. Erwan snapped back into reality. He looked back at the British artillery position and realised that he was not out of the woods yet. A republican flag flew over the British guns which fired indiscriminately at their former owners. To make matters worse, the routed republican soldiers were busy rallying and reforming at the sight of their comrades' ordeal; orchestrated by drumbeat and hideous song.
Only real difference of course is passive voice here emphasises something fairly important in context and gives some impression the action does not entirely happen in a vaccuum despite limitations of writing as medium.
 

BMN

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That French, though...

At least use google translate before you maul a foreign language... just saying.