|Salutations Matt Gallet !
You are receiving this review of "Hallow Rise: Prologue" because of the services provided by "Invalid Item" , the place to receive honest, insightful, and constructive reviews! Suggestions made herein are the product of my own creative and suggestive liberty and are not influenced by or made in reflection of past reviews/ratings given to this item. All comments are guaranteed to be honest, constructive, encouraging, insightful and unbiased. Again, these are only my suggestions; you may use them at your own discretion or throw them out entirely. Thank you for this opportunity to give you my suggestions. Let’s get started!
I always look at an Item’s information before starting a review. A lot of reviewers skip past these details, but I happen to think they can be as important as the prose of the piece itself but for an entirely different reason. Most of us place our work on Writing.Com in the pursuit of encouragement and critique. The means of obtaining that rest upon the ability of a potential reading finding your item and then becoming interested enough to read the item. I believe you have missed an opportunity with your item description. What you’ve currently written as your item description should be put into the author’s note that appears at the beginning of the piece. Utilize your item description to its fullest. This is what potential readers see when looking at your item and you should capitalize on this opportunity to write something that will instantly hook a reader into checking out your work. Make a potential reader have to click on your item and read it. You’ve missed that opportunity. There’s definitely room for improvement there.
That being said, I looked through your port and saw that you’ve created a Book Item for your novel, "Invalid Item" . Although this review is for "Hallow Rise: Prologue" , I believe I’d be doing you a disservice if I didn’t tell you that your Book Item has some of the same issues listed above. Always use your item description to intrigue potential readers, focusing on strategic wording to enhance the likelihood that a reader will open your item and read its contents. Also pay attention to selecting an appropriate content rating and selecting the appropriate genres—always utilize all three selections—as these will greatly impact the exposure of your item to potential readers. Additionally, I believe you should give a brief synopsis—think like what you’d expect to read on a book jacket—within the body of your Book Item so that your readers aren't going into the item without knowing anything about your project. This leads to cold readings and half-interested readers. By being direct and letting your potential reader know a little of what they can expect, you can make a sincere attempt to begin shrinking the proportion of views to reviews.
Whew, okay. With that out of the way, I do have to say that I am quite impressed with the title of your novel. Hallow Rise is very intriguing and compelling. It may only be two words but they go a long way for me. They're able to imbue something that's rather interesting and mysterious; the title just sounds awesome! I am a bit entertained thinking about whether Hallow or Hollow would be more intriguing. But either way, I'm sure reading more chapters will reveal the significance of a hallow rise.
Mechanics | Structure
The rain poured down from above, drenching the battlefield [. . .]
This is a little redundant. Rain falls from above and thus doesn't need an amendment or modifier to secure the understanding of the logistics of common weather. Also, I think you could use either a verb stronger than poured or further describe the state of the rainstorm. Why? You state that the rain in fact drenched the battlefield. Therefore, we know it isn't a mere sprinkling or a short-lived passing shower. Stronger descriptions could enhance this opening sentence.
The deluge of rainfall smacked off war-scarred helmets before hitting the swollen ground. Streams of life blood and dirty sweat slipped from the rushing warriors as they clamored beneath ashen clouds. The armor-clad men crashed against one another, the force of recoil anchoring their feet into the sodden earth . Though quickly thrown together as an example, you can see the impact of being more direct with appropriate verbs and using a little artistic description to present a stronger opening visual to your reader. They're immediately taken to the scene and thrown into action.
[. . .] and drowning out the noises of swords clashing [. . .]
The sentence preceding this one is talking about rain and how drenched the battlefield is. Aesthetically, I think using the word drowning—with its attribution to water, although not in this instance of usage—is not the best word choice. I understand the image you're trying to convey to your readers, but you take them from talking about a heavy rainfall that has saturated the ground of the battlefield to another image that relies on a word associated with water but not using it in that context. It's a conflicting passage that made my brain feel like it had been going 60 miles an hour and brought to an abrupt stop. I'd suggest coming up with another word choice to avoid this. Also, I think this sentence could be made more powerful if you describe the noise on the battlefield; rather than telling, show your readers via description.
The clapping of thunder roared over shrilling battle-cries and the clinking of merciless iron swords that sliced men to the ground.
Leonard Dalian watched from the top of the hill in the center of the valley [. . .]
I believe you can enhance this sentence by reordering some of the words, making small aesthetic word changes and showing, not telling.
From atop the central hill, Leornard Dalian stared out across the valley through the thin slits of his helmet. Again, just a thrown-together example but it transports your reader into the scene to experience it rather than being told and thus removed.
He had to kill Tol'Amen.
What an incredibly powerful sentence! I think you could add to it's power by making it its own one sentence paragraph.
Dalian knew there was only one way to win this war and free the world from the dark plague that was haunting it.
He had to kill Tol'Amen.
Drawing his sword [. . .]
"Show yourself now!"
I think you should omit the word now. It doesn't enhance the sentence and actually detracts from the power of the command.
Dalian felt his heart speed up [. . .] saw what was happening [. . .]
This would be a perfect place to show your reader the scene. This is too good, take them there! And I'd omit the last part of the sentence and just jump into describing exactly why Dalian is reacting the way he is.
A surge of adrenaline coursed through Dalian's body as his chest heaved, the pounding of his heart against the plate armor like a drum.
A small circle of dark energy formed.
From where? Describe the formation of this phenomena.
Across the battle-ravaged valley the fabric of the sky appeared to be torn. From within the rift dropped an obsidian-colored orb. Small bands of lightning danced across the dark circle as it hovered over the battlefield.
[. . .]scream as the dark energy sucked the soul from them [. . .]
How did the sphere of dark energy suck the souls from the men? Was it a visible spiritual theft? How can Dalian tell that's what is happening. Transport us and let us see what Dalian is seeing.
A shockwave raced outward from the sphere of dark energy and spilled over the soldiers as the stopped warring and stood awestruck. Within moments the death curdles of the afflicted men echoed off the valley walls as Dalian watched the ghostly vapors of the men sucked into the center of the orb. The empty shells of the soldiers fell to the ground as the dark sphere of energy bulged from its ingestion of stolen souls.
[. . .] wearing armor made of almost impenetrable bones [. . .] a sword sharper than anything in the known world.
If Dalian is seeing this, how does he know the particular qualities of Tol'Amen's armor and sword? These physical characteristics aren't realistically gauged with the sense of site. I'd find a way to describe the qualities.
A barrage of crossbow fire pierced through the air toward the demon. Tol'Amen taunted the archers by stretching his arms outward and pressing his chest forward. The arrows effortlessly bounced off the demon's armor, appearing to be made of entwined bone fragments. The demon lifted its heavy sword and brought it crashing to the earth, slicing the soldiers in half as if they had never been present. In all of his years in the military, Dalian had never saw a blade so sharp.
Tol'Amen resembled a man but was clearly a demon.
In what way? Give us some indication. What marks the difference between a human and a demon?
Tol'Amen was a tortured reflection of a possessed man. After a sentence like this one, go on to describe his physical appearance.
[. . .] skin was a light shade of blue [. . .] hair was scraggly and dark blue.
An unnecessary redundancy in the use of the word blue.
His taunt skin was a light shade of blue and his unkempt hair a hue darker.
[. . .]his eyes stood out the most.
What stood out about them? What makes them special or memorable? You do a great job of explaining the answer to these two questions in the sentence following this one. I'd omit this portion and just jump right into explaining the quality of Tol'Amen's eyes and why Dalian seems so haunted by them.
"Hello, Dalian." the [. . .]
I don't think a dark and twisted being would be so formal in salutary greeting or manner. It makes the demon appear more menacing if it is direct and not bogged down by human formality. Also, capitalize the T in the word the since you're not accompanying the dialogue with a speech tag.
"Dalian." The [ . . .]
"I don't suppose you're here to surrender, are you?"
Again, I don't picture this demonic being sounding so formal. I see him as demanding. If he's here to destroy or take over the world, I don't think he cares about the formal presentation of his diabolic speech. I think it'd be more impressive and serve to build the characterization of Tol'Amen by making him more demanding and short-worded rather than formal.
"Surrender." To me, by demanding surrender rather than asking Dalian's intentions does a couple of positive and important things. 1) It reinforces Tol'Amen as a creature that won't accept anything less than surrender. 2) It showcases the strength of the demon by his demand and his belief that the war is over and Dalian can do nothing but surrender. It builds the intensity, believability, and strength or Tol'Amen as a character and highlights his uncompromising evilness.
Dalian grew angry as Tol'Amen [. . .]
Show us how Dalian reacts to Tol'Amen. It does make a difference and will be a more enjoyable and rewarding experience for your reader.
Dalian's hands tightened around the hilt of his sword as he clenched his teeth.
"This ends right here, demon!"
I think, again, this piece of dialogue could be more powerful by omitting a few words.
"This ends, demon!"
Tol'Amen replaced his grin with a frown.
Tol'Amen is a demon that's come to take over the world. I don't think he'd be upset and frown at Dalian's refusal to surrender. I think he'd shoot an evil smile and enjoy his task of getting to fight Dalian.
Tol'Amen smiled, his grotesque black teeth jutting from gums like knives.
They collided and the battle begun.
There had already been fighting between the Steel Wings and the Lost, which I just realized are never really described at any depth. I would reword and describe the scene.
Dalian and the demon collided with an explosion of force that pushed both of them backward. The strength of the demon was incredible.
Dalian was able to match his opponent hit-for-hit [. . .] felt himself losing strength.
There's a problem here. Tol'Amen's sword is described in an earlier passage as being the sharpest thing in the known world. If this is the case, then shouldn't Tol'Amen's sword cut right through Dalian's? You have described Dalian's sword as being forged in the Temple of the Infinite by the God-Gaurdian Sarrah but that's meaningless unless given context and meaning. What makes this sword special? What are it's intrinsic and otherworldly properties? Is there something about the forging of the sword that enable it to withstand the sharpness of Tol'Amen's blade? Also, the fighting sequence hit-for-hit should be expanded as it's a major climactic point in your prologue. Expand and describe. Describe Dalian's lose of strength. Is he growing fatigued from the fighting? How strong is the demon? Do both make and lose ground in their fight with one another?
[. . .] it appeared the fight was wearing on Tol'Amen as well.
What about Tol'Amen indicates this?
Tol'Amen parried a sword strike. The blades locked as Dalian and the demon pressed against the clinch, drawing deep breaths as they both attempted to shift the other off balance. During a close combat situation, this would be a great place to introduce new dialogue between Dalian and Tol'Amen.
"Enough!" he roared over the storm. "This is my world!"
I believe Tol'Amen says this line but you should indicate it clearly for your reader. I would also italicize the word "my" to show a stronger emphasis on the word, it'll make the statement more powerful.
"Enough!" Tol'Amen growled over the roaring thunder. "This is my world!"
[. . .] Dalian's sword had shattered his armor and went right through his chest.
You've described earlier that Tol'Amen armor was "impenetrable". This is why I believe it is again so vital to properly describe the unique properties of Dalian's sword.
Tol'Amen laughed demonically
I want to experience this laugh. What about the laugh makes it demonic other than the fact that Tol'Amen is a demon?
A hissing wail escaped Tol'Amen's black lips. The sound shook Dalian and sent a chill throughout his body. It felt as if the laughter had come alive and entered his body, pressing tightly around his heart and choking it. Dalian clenched his chest as it constricted.
"You and I both know something as pitiful as death can't stop me. I'll return, and when I do you won't be here to stop me."
Again, I think you better characterize Tol'Amen through his speech.
Tol'Amen rolled his black eyes into the back of his head as if amused. "I'll return, Dalian. Demons do not die. You're coming with me ."
[. . .] gained the strength they needed to wipe the Lost out.
I really wish you had described this. Allow us to see the action as telling denies us that ability. A good way to know if you're telling and not showing is to see if you are summarizing. And here, you clearly are summarizing. This is the falling action of the prologue following the climax; let us feel it with your characters as we've just been on a journey with them.
The cheer could be hard all across the land.
[. . .] as the claws of death ripped at him.
Now this is a great visual! Well done!
His final thought was that, if Tol'Amen ever did return, there might not be anything anyone can do to stop him.
I would find a better way to show this.
I hope you're right Faron. Keep the legacy of the Steel Wings alive or nothing will be able to stop Tol'Amen's return. A coldness crept over Dalian, stealing the life from his body. Within moments he had faded away.
Plot | Background
I think you've set up the backdrop to your story fairly nicely. The reader can come to expect what the story may be about—the return of Tol'Amen. I would've loved a little more backstory, however. How did Dalian become the champion of the world that the demon was trying to take control of? What about the world is worthy of an invasion and takeover from Tol'Amen? Are there human factions/nations that are fighting alongside one another to combat the Lost and Tol'Amen? There are a few instances I think you should definitely consider fleshing out. What about Dalian's blade is so special? Is it the only thing that can pierce Tol'Amen's armor? If so, then is there a legacy of the blade being the safekeeper of the world? I think you've got the skeleton to the story, a solid foundation from which to expand and explore.
Pacing | Voice
I felt like certain areas of the story needed to be slowed down and given some more attention and detail. A lot of the scenes where fighting happens feel rushed and not thought out. You do summarizing during these scenes with a and they fight type of mentality. Slow down the scene and let your readers experience the fighting as it's happening. Here's a great off-site article about sword fighting that can really help you flesh out your battles sequences: Writing Believable Sword Fights .
Dalian- the hero and savior against the demon, Tol'Amen. There wasn't much description about Dalian, but I will say I truly love his name. It has a very Old World feel to it that comes across as plausible and cemented in history and reality. What kind of leader is Dalian? Explore his psyche, his emotions, and his mannerisms. Make him come alive, make the readers care about his fight and successful vanquishing of the demon. Make us both sad and scared that he dies and the legacy of fighting Tol'Amen's return falls upon men that can no longer count on his presence to ready and rally them.
Tol'Amen- for being a demon bent on taking over the world, the demon doesn't seem very menacing. I'd try and really make his evilness pop. If he's going to be Dalian's foil, I'd work on their relationship and differences—or even more spooky, their similarities just seen and spun under different context—and explore how their personalities mesh and stand alone.
The prologue takes place in a valley of some kind. Not much else is described and I'm not entirely sure it needs to be. I'd throw in a few descriptions about the valley just to firmly cement your reader in a location.
A major way characterization comes across is the manner in which they speak. This is especially significant to the demon, Tol'Amen. Make him come across as evil and vile and everything you'd want to avoid. Make his sentences short and raw. A demon relies on other means to scare; it doesn't need its voice or and expanded vocabulary. I'd suggest checking out "Invalid Item" , "5 Tips & Advice On Writing Dialogue" , and the dialogue portion of "Invalid Item" . These articles are really helpful on understanding how effective dialogue can enrich the experience for your readers, reinforce characterization, and propel a scene forward in a meaningful and creatively relevant manner.
Use of Descriptions
You have some amazing description sprinkled throughout this piece. The claws of death scratching at Dalian was very powerful and eloquent. The major issue with the use of description was the reader being told rather than shown. When a reader is told about something happening, it denies them the ability to experience it. By not allowing the reader to experience what is happening, it strips the writing from being as effective and emotionally moving as it can be.
Here are some amazing resources that expound on the issue in a better fashion that I could describe:
"Show Don't Tell"
"Creating Motion in Fiction"
"Dramatize, Don't Summarize!"
"Lesson 4: Show, Don't Tell"
And here's a contest that's currently ongoing that you can use as an exercise in showing, not telling:
"Show, Don't Tell Contest OLD"
I really, really enjoyed the beginning! I felt the pacing and setup of the scene was astounding and I commend you on it. I felt the entrance of Dalian's character was appropriately timed and managed well.
The great premise of the beginning and rising action fell flat toward the end of the piece. It felt anticlimactic. The scene was building to a great fight between Dalian and Tol'Amen but then plateaued and never recovered. This prologue should leave your readers wanting to read more. And mostly, it did just that. I'm itching to find out if Tol'Amen returns and if/when he does what kind of response, if any, awaits him. The fight sequence, which was the climax of the story, seemed rushed when that was the meat of the scene that should've been slowed down and showcased. I'd work on the ending, leaving your readers anxious to read on.
The only thing I'd watch out for is falling into the evil demon out to take over the world just to take it over. What motivates the demon beyond just being an evil creature? Adding a dimension to Tol'Amen's motivation will make the character more approachable and more realistic to your readers.
You've got a great start to a story that already intrigues me just on premise alone. With a few adjustments to description, showing not telling, slowing down and expanding your story's climactic fight sequence, and working on characterization your piece will be exceptional! I'll be coming back for more!