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Cabata's Quest: Parents

6 years ago

I have been told by several sources that I should actually add characters to my edutainment-in-progress. Who knew!?! LOL

Here is my first attempt: a memory of the last time you saw your parents. It is the first of many memories (and, eventually, an entire fleshed-out backstory) that I plan to add.

Any and all comments are greatly appreciated. :-)


You recall your last moments with your parents. They are about to embark on their journey to JetWorth Castle…

Your mother tries to soothe you, giving you a warm hug. She kisses your cheek and wipes a tear from your eye. Her long wavy brown hair is frayed at the ends. The circles under her eyes have been growing darker every day, temporarily marring her delicate beauty. She is trying to put on a brave face, but she is failing.

“You didn’t deserve to be born to parents who are cursed. I can see why you are scared and angry.” She identifies an emotion you weren’t aware you even had. You are mad at fate, and at your parents for being unable to protect you from it. “Whatever happens, know that your father and I love you.” She caresses your cheek and turns away, trying to hide the tears now flowing freely from her eyes.

Your father, always the logician, tries to comfort you. “The Fear Bane has always eventually been defeated in the past. We know that, son.” He runs his fingers through his hair, prematurely graying from the cares of governance. “There is no need to worry.  Besides, the walls of JetWorth Castle are built of Jet Worth Stone. For all we know, they will repel the Fear Bane altogether.” He pats your shoulder reassuringly and, in a rare act of tenderness for him, tussled your hair and allows his gaze to linger. He takes you in one last time, then furrows his brow and turns to mount his horse.

The populace has lined the roads: some cheering, some sad, most worried… all admiring your parents. The Dual Monarchs have led their people admirably, selflessly, and they are loved.

Your parents have always protected you and Alluvia from harm. They are all that you have ever known. Now they will voluntary face the Fear Bane alone.  

What will I do if they are lost?

A cold breeze washes across your face, blowing aside your reflections, bringing you back to the present time…

Cabata's Quest: Parents

6 years ago

Your education embedded in this like ash in porcelain. Your writing is extremely tight. It's clean almost surgical in nature.

One typo, third to last break, should be "voluntarily" instead of "voluntary"

Important childhood memories for me usually have more feelings and senses in play. It's funny what we remember. For example, the first one that comes to mind:

When I went to see my grandfather for the last time I remember getting to the hospital dazed. It was cold. The tag on my shirt was making my back itch. Any other time I was going to get to see him I was excited, but I never remembered him being in a hospital before, I wasn't even sure why I was there, why he was there. My mother said something about us not being here long, but I can't remember what exactly. I heard my dad talking to a doctor, but I couldn't make it out. I was trying to pull mom along, I was willing us forward, but we weren't going anywhere. I was small. The room was big. There was a man sitting against the wall that kept on coughing. My dad marched to us, I could hear his tennis shoes against the floor. He was holding a small book I hadn't seen before. He said something to my mom, it was good news, then numbers and words only paramedics, nurses, and doctors understood as far as I knew. My dad handed me the book,
"Paw paw got this for you."

My birthday was in a week. I'd forgotten, I didn't care, "I don't get to see him?"

"Not tonight, but we'll come back." It was something like that. His answer was very similar. I never got to see him.

The first thing we forget is exactly what someone said, then maybe how they sounded, then how they looked, but the last thing we forget is how they made us feel. All this to say, I think it may be a little dialogue heavy for a childhood memory.

With how particular the rest of it appears, I thought it odd you opted to use the word "Mad" in the third break, "mad at fate" Madness, anger, and resentment are different. Maybe the character resents fate, or is angry with it. Most people wouldn't contemplate the difference, but I noticed.

Are the father's actions in the fourth break emphasizing his expert logical skills, or more of his optimism and/or experience and practical knowledge? How could the text be altered to emphasize the intended emotions and character traits?

Lastly! make sure the reader can interpret the actions of a logician as logical ones! I don't know the context, something you've been able to make me curious about, so I can't say whether the actions are or are not.

What's your total word and page count right now?

Cabata's Quest: Parents

6 years ago

Thanks for the feedback uglick! Erudite, as always.

I should have mentioned that this is a recent memory (and the character is 18yo). I am working on an older, more playful memory that I think I'll post as well once I polish it. I'm going to take a look at my word choice with respect to "mad". With respect to the father being a logician, I think I'm trying to say he emphasizes logic (and tries to be stoic) to the exclusion of empathy and emotions... and I want to explore the good and bad effects that has had on his relationships. Also, based on the memory you shared, I think I'll add in some sounds to mine. ;-)

The word count is currently 87000, and the page count is 863.

Cabata's Quest: Parents

6 years ago

Maybe spend more time with the character interacting with the parents, to show them WHY they should miss them?  It kind of falls into the show don't tell category.  Instead of "I can see why you're scared and angry", build up to actions of thoughts that would show evidence of it, perhaps?

The part about the father's hair prematurely graying was pretty slick, meaning you smoothly wrote something that was showing and not telling!  As with the rare tender moment of tussling the characters hair, and then taking in what may be the last time he sees his child.  Maybe a moment similarly described like this for the mother would smooth it all out perfectly. 

Other than that, it looks really good in my opinion.  Great job so far, and good luck!

Cabata's Quest: Parents

6 years ago

Thank for the great feedback, bro. That's exactly what DEP and one of my off-line friends have been telling me. My only problems is... it means more work!! :'( LOL I'll try more dialogue and non-verbal cues/non-verbal communication (as opposed to telling).

Cabata's Quest: Parents

6 years ago

I have the same problem in my writing too, as you have probably

Also 87,000 words is impressive, good job.

Cabata's Quest: Parents

6 years ago

That caught my eye:?

"Your mother tries to soothe you, giving you a warm hug. She kisses your cheek and wipes a tear from your eye."

The beginning is really "you"-heavy. Try to find other words or just describe it differently. After writing 87.000 words you should have the needed knowledge.

As for the rest - your wrote that the boy is mad and scared, but that is where your description of (to that point) the most tragic incident in his life suddenly stops. Maybe one or two sentences about his inner conflict.

There are some open questions, but I suppose they are there to keep the readers attention. 

And one last point - the kingdom is ruled by Dual-Monarchs, but the meaning of monarchy is that there is one sole and absolute ruler. Dual monarchy means that one monarch rules over two kingdoms. Here it is a case of diarchy (As Wikipedia says). 



Cabata's Quest: Parents

6 years ago

Excellent points! Thanks so much for this.

Amazing that I love calling others out on repetition of words/phrasing and here I am doing it myself. LOL I am going to have to include more of the MC (as you are pointing out). I think I need to figure out who he/she is (Cabata is gender-neutral for the time being) and solidify their personality more, so I can start confidently adding their thoughts/reactions into the scenes. As for diarchy: goddamit! Dual-Monarchy sounds so cool, but you are right. Time to change it. ;-p Thanks again.  

Cabata's Quest: Parents

6 years ago
This is a short one, but I’ll give it a go. First, the disclaimers: this is my review. It is likely not like anyone else’s. In fact, you probably couldn’t find anyone else who completely agrees with what I write here. But it’s my opinion. I’m also writing this as I read through this for the first time. These are my first impressions as I read it. I’m not saying they’re right, just what I’m thinking. This is written in the spirit of helping you see how others see your story and to perhaps give you ideas for improvement, and not to be mean or anything else. Please don’t take it personally. This review is likely worth exactly what you paid for it. Finally, you did ask.

Here we go:

So for a background I have, “memory of my parents.” Well, I guess that’s better than nothing, but I’m coming into this blind, not knowing anything about the setting or character so far. That’s fine, just a note to be aware of. Ok, that’s repeated in the opening line, so I get it. They’re going to JetWorth castle. Now that’s quite a conflict there. With the name “JetWorth,” this sounds ultra-modern – either set in the current day or the future. But since it’s a castle that seems odd. So now I’m picturing JetWorth castle as something out of the Jetsons: an old castle with hovercars departing from the round towers. Oh well, I don’t think that’s important to the story, but when I read, my mind tends to paint pictures of what I’m reading, and that seemed to stick out for me.

Since my mother is trying to soothe me, I’m now thinking that I’m a bit on the young side. I guess I could be anywhere from 8 to 12 or so, especially since I’m crying. I like the descriptions of my mother, yet they almost took me out of the story. There was something about the way those were worded – almost like they’re just some random descriptions. I think a tiny change there to make it clear that I’m seeing those things instead of them just being described might make a big difference in this section.

Whoa, my parents are cursed. Now my mind is shifting the setting. Is the setting in old medieval times where there’s witches? If so, I’m going to have to erase those flying hovercars out of my mind. I guess she could be just talking and not REALLY be cursed. In this section the subjects jumped around a little. My mom was talking, then she identified an emotion for me, then I am mad, then she is talking. I wonder if it would work better if it’s going to switch subjects to shift to different paragraphs. Maybe. Or maybe something as simple as putting a colon before “You are mad…” would make it more effective.

The Fear Bane? What the heck is that? With capitalization, that sounds serious. That sounds like an affliction or something. Wait, is that the curse? No, that wouldn’t make sense, I’m the one that’s caught the thing. But that does make me think it’s a magical affliction or something, so I’m back to erasing my flying cars from the setting. I like that you tried to integrate descriptions into the regular text without forcing it too much.

And here comes my confusion. Yeah, that happens to me a lot when I read these things. Anyway, I was reading about the walls of the Jet castle that doesn’t have flying cars when dear old dad mentioned that the walls might repel the Fear Bane. But wait – I thought *I* had the fear bane and my parents were going to the castle. Bastards are leaving me behind to suffer while they hide behind the walls of magic? I’m going to kick this guy in the rear when he turns his back. I guess the reason I thought I had the bane thing is that my mom had suddenly identified that I was afraid, then my dad decided to talk about the fear bane. So I’m now assuming that the Fear Bane is the curse that my parents have, but I didn’t really get that while reading it through the first time.

But hey, apparently it’s a party! And also, it’s not contagious – the fear bane, that is. Because why in the world are people lining the street to see a couple people off who are cursed? I dunno, the further I read, the more I get confused about this fear bane thing. Now my parents are going off to face it. So did they have it all along? Is the curse that they have to go face it? Why are the people cheering my cursed parents? Do they despise them? Hey, I have a sister!

Overall, nicely done. With the exception of the fear bane, it’s pretty clear. I could see some character development here, if that’s what you’re going for, but not a great deal. The way I’ve always found that works well for me is that I develop the character completely separate from the story. I have an entire template that describes everything about the character (added at the end of this post, in case you’re interested). I don’t have to use all those things in the story, but knowing all those things about the character helps me picture them and will help me determine how they react and feel at different times in the story. So hey, keep up the great work and I do hope this helps!

Character Template (Brief):

Extended Family:

Single or married?

Favorite color:
Favorite foods:
Drinking patterns:

Something hated:
Something loved:
Strong memories:
Any illnesses:
Nervous gestures:
Sleep patterns:

Cabata's Quest: Parents

6 years ago

Thank you, Ogre! Was hoping I would someday get one of these. :D  Your play-by-plays are incredibly useful and fun to read.

This excerpt skips a lot of background information (which would have been found on the pages before): The Fear Bane is, in fact, a curse that affects the dual-monarchs diarchs (and then spreads to the populace) ever 200 years. It afflicts them with Fear Magic (gives them some form of a “nervous breakdown”… on this occasion, something akin to a Panic Attack)… for which their current forms of magic  -- Yoga Magic (aka relaxation training) and Logos Magic (aka cognitive therapy) -- are insufficient.

Your parents are going to isolate themselves in JetWorth Castle to try to shield the populace from the effects of the Fear Bane.  As you eventually discover in the story, throughout history, the Fear Bane forces the rediscovery of berserker magic (i.e. forms of behavioral therapy) and advanced verbal wizardry (assertiveness training/emotion validation).

About 30% through the book, you get to choose which of three forms of magic you’d like to specialize in – “progressive berserkers” (aka gradual exposures), “intense berserkers” (aka flooding/implosion therapy), or “advanced verbal wizardry” (aka assertiveness training), and that becomes the major, permanent branch point in the narrative (although there are two previous major branch points that lead to quicker endings).

This entire project started out as a glorified version of one of my websites… an attempt to explain therapy techniques in a more engaging way… but it is slowly but surely expanding into a real story… which explains why I am doing everything ass-backwards! lol

Thanks for sharing your template for character dev. It looks great and I will try it! Pretty sure I will end up taking the lazy route/”writing what I know”… which is to say, the parents will be versions of my parents, and Cabata will be some version of myself when I was younger. ;-)

Cabata's Quest: Parents

6 years ago
Sounds interesting! I guess the biggest remaining question I have is about the curse -- do those infected know they're infected? How? The parents seem to be fine now, are they already affected? If so, how does it manifest? And if it's contagious, why in the world are these people lining the street to see them off?

Cabata's Quest: Parents

6 years ago

The Fear Bane is triggered by a red comet which appears every 200 years... right at the moment where it floats into position/becomes the "eye" of the Dragos Constellation. Near the opening of the story, the oculus comet has re-appeared (as foretold) and everyone starts scrambling the fuck out before the night of the Fear Bane... Still developing this part time-wise... but I think the comet will re-appear several weeks before the night of the actual conjunction. Your parents depart to JetWorth castle about a week before the conjunction as a last-ditch effort to at least spare the populous of the impending effects. Right at the moment of the conjunction, a red beam shoots down from the dragon's eye, there is an explosion at JetWorth castle, and all shit goes to hell. ;D

The majority of the story is you trying to reach and rescue your parents/reverse the effects of the Fear Bane. At the outset (ie after the Fear Bane) the forest surrounding JetWorth castle is infected with Fear Magic... anyone who tries to enter has a panic attack... so even just reaching your parents (let alone, figuring out what happened to them and how to save them once you reach the castle) is a major struggle/requires you to learn new forms of magic.

Cabata's Quest: Parents

6 years ago

Nice additional background information and characterization. The style is brief and includes nice concrete imagery. Kind of like the way Robert E. Howard could give brief descriptions that never slowed down the narrative pace of his stories. Will we get any background information on the curse, though? Still want to send you my story sometime, although I'll need to retype it, unless I can upload the audio version I did in 2011.

Cabata's Quest: Parents

6 years ago

Thanks for the feedback. :-) 

I am currently developing the backstory of the Fear Bane, along with various themes for each of the main characters. I've finally settled on an idea I like for the curse's origin, and also on the main internal conflict each character will be facing. Almost time to put pen to paper. Will hopefully have something to show for my efforts in a week or two.

Would be happy to read your story (enjoyed your Doll's Quest quite a lot)!