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Old Times... and New Times!

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Offline newimperium

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Joined: Sat Feb 23, 2008 3:57 pm

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 07, 2008 5:08 am   Post subject: Re: Old Times... and New Times!   

Congratulations on the upcoming baby! I guess it could be any time now, huh? That's very exciting; my wife and I are hoping to have our first next year.
We moved into our new house a couple of weeks ago and have been busy decorating and such... We managed to get a good deal on a house here. What's the average cost for a small family, first-time home over there? Here I would say it's between 140-170k, but a lot of people are buying foreclosures these days. Oh, and gas prices have dropped again. Around $1.50 for a gallon, and some people say it could drop as low as a dollar. Are trends going similarly there?

Anyway, take your time with the stories. I went through a couple of years ago and edited all of them, dramatically changing some things to make it more cohesive and so that a newcomer can read and understand. I'm making new posts to the latest story right now on the Fiction forum.
As for Nico, I'm sure he won't remain that way for too long... He should be back within another story or two. Though after what he's been through, I'm not sure he'll be exactly the same person he was before... We'll have to come up with some ideas. :)

What did you think of the NJO? I read them as they came out, but ultimately I was disappointed and thought it was a waste of time. They just took too long with one plot line. I was hopeful for Jacen's new role as an uber-powerful 'gray' Jedi, but the way it ended was such a disappointment. I'm becoming less interested with where the SW universe is going, and getting into other fiction now. I may follow the progressing timeline, but other prequel-era stories and such I doubt I'll bother with.
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Offline Nico

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Joined: Fri Oct 03, 2008 4:49 pm

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 17, 2009 8:13 pm   Post subject: Re: Old Times... and New Times!   

It's taken me over a year to re-read the entire plotline (having a baby daughter around can do that to a man) while commuting to work. I have to admit, going through the earlier stories and the runons was a bit of a pain as (and I blame myself too in hindsight) the quality is obviously subpar.

First of all, I think I still have an old version of the stories and not the "updated" version you mention in your previous post. A lot of things which happened in the earlier stories were in some ways adapted in later stories (Kurt being an AD agent, Turles going from a rogue DJM to an AD Jedicon, etc.).
Secondly, I couldn't fail but notice that in the last story (I refer to Destiny as I haven't read the Remembrance posts on the MB yet) you seem to be killing a lot of non-NPCs. As a non-NPC currently in a coma this shocks me of course :o Seriously, it surprised me a bit that you killed a lot of the "old guys" and kept other NPCs (Xoan, Akala, etc.) alive. I'm always more "upset" when I read about a character which I feel I know (i.e. has featured a lot in the stories) getting killed, compared to (in some stories all too obvious) cannon fodder which is introduced by name and then finished off in the next paragraph.
Thirdly, and linked to the previous point. You simply had too many characters running around. As a reader it's hard to keep track of every character and their history, current place and job, etc. In that respect, getting rid of some of them was a good idea.
Fourthly, after being out of it for so many years, I found it hard in times to remember the characters, the ranks (and the order of ranks), etc. For a complete outsider, I believe it to be very tough to go through the stories.
Fifthly, a nuisance which has improved a lot during the plotline is the fact that you tend to stick to one story line for too long. What I kind of like is some sort of a Dan Brown style of writing (I don't know if you've read his work). He has fairly short chapters, which almost always end with a cliff hanger and skips to a different charachter in the next chapter. The story in which you (= the Xar character) is being imprisoned, tortured and killed by Kronos is an example of this (I can't recall the exact name of the plotline story). Instead of keeping your reader wondering what happened to you, you just stick to the Xar character and tell the reader all he wants to know straight away. As a reader I need to yearn to know the rest of the story, which is something that lacks in a lot of the earlier stories. Once again, this has improved hugely in the later ones, but then again, you could consider cutting the number of main characters down a bit more.
Finally, you've gone through a lot of epic battle scenes. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with them, I often lack a bit of emotional depth. I need to know what people are thinking, why they are doing stuff, etc. What makes stories truly interesting is not only the catastrophe of war, but also the personal struggles. In that respect, I think the Billbob spice addiction was a step on the good track ;-)

All in all, my criticisms are meant to be constructive and not to demotivate you in writing any further ;-)
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Offline newimperium

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Joined: Sat Feb 23, 2008 3:57 pm

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 01, 2010 4:12 am   Post subject: Re: Old Times... and New Times!   

Nico,

Thank you for the message! It had been so long since anyone but me posted anything that I hadn't realized until now (over a month late) that you actually replied! I took a hiatus from writing for a while as we cared for our newborn baby daughter when she came home. She was born 7 weeks premature and was in the hospital for 6 weeks, but is now a healthy almost-5-month-old and is wearing us out! ;)

Also, before I say anything else, I just want you say thank you for reading the stories again! Wow mate, that is quite a feat, I know. Even though I sat down to reread some of them I started just skipping through because it is like reading several novels. I'm a little confused how you might not have had the most updated versions, though... Because to my knowledge, the versions that are on the newimperium.org site (both .doc and .html) ARE the latest versions, and I went through a few years ago and re-wrote nearly all of them. Mostly I ret-conned (fixed) a lot of the continuity errors and tried to make it more new-reader friendly. Believe me, they were in a bad state. A lot of just plain silly stuff was going on that taken out of the original club context seriously detracted from the quality.

Thank you so much for your feedback, and believe, it's constructive and so welcomed. I can't tell you how much it means to get some, ANY, feedback. You are the only person that I know of who has read Destiny. I could kiss you. :P I put so much of myself, so much effort, into writing that story. I had looked forward to it for years.

Let me take some of your points in order. I think I already addressed the first one (that the updated stories should be on the website already). I know the quality is poor at first, but I had hoped I'd fixed a lot of it when I did the re-writes. There are still some major flaws, and the runons in particular are just plain bad, but I hate to get rid of them because they had a lot of nostalgia... What do you think?

Second point and third points kind of tie together, so I'll address them together. Yes, I killed off a lot of "real" characters. But I did that precisely because of the shock factor it would have. That story, that battle, was a long time in coming, and is the main climax before the end. Most of the members who wanted to see it sadly won't ever because so long has passed. I sent an e-mail to everyone I could find on the old rosters, asking them to come back to the site and help out. I only got a few responses, and so I decided to treat everyone as, basically, fictional characters in a story. I even killed off characters I didn't WANT to kill off, so that I could even write the emotion of the scene more realistically. By those I refer to Brightblade, Amleth, etc. Others, such as Gui Sun Paan for example, gave me permission to kill him in that story. But ultimately, after the collapse of the NI and when I decided to continue this on as a completely fictional SW story, I decided to drop the whole concept of NPCs vs. non-NPCs. In my stories NPCs probably got more screen time anyway, so in a sense they became the main characters.

But you're absolutely right, there were simply too many characters. I realized I couldn't possibly write them all, and yet their names were written right there in the roster, the dramatis personae, so I didn't want to just erase their memory. That was another major factor in killing so many major people in Destiny. I also needed the battle to seem realistic. The NI should have had no chance against such an overwhelming force. And with so many people on the roster, I needed to whittle down the number of characters significantly to make the story more manageable. Otherwise the stories would go on forever but never go anywhere. Destiny takes place in the span of a single day. I had a LOT of trouble keeping track of everyone, myself. It feels so much better to have a smaller cast in Remembrance, and we're going to mainly stick with those until the end. And by the way, more major characters are going to die before this thing is over. :P

Fourth point. Thank you for letting me know that. Keeping up with all the character IS daunting, for sure, as well as all the different ranks, divisions, etc. That is why we had the database, gallery, and why I spent at least a whole month just working on the NI Wikipedia. But for people not willing to read all that, I can see where it's confusing. I had thought that ranks were pretty clear militarily, but as for who is what rank, even I don't spend much time worrying about it myself. I think of people more in terms of their position and how strong they are in the Force. I think the Jedi ranks are pretty straightforward, but who is what rank? It doesn't help that the division itself is composed of different factions, different houses, etc. But as of Remembrance all that has pretty much been reset. I don't know, maybe we can do something to make the earlier stories easier to get into? If you have any ideas, I'm all ears.

Fifth point. I completely feel you on this point. In the earlier stories I often followed one person's storyline way too far. At the time it felt fast-paced and exciting, but like you said, when I go back and re-read them I'm appalled at how quickly it resolves everything. There's not much room for tension and waiting. I wish I could fix it, but that might involve writing a lot of new material and sub-plots just to space things out. For example, "Shadow Revealed", where Xar is captured and tortured, basically all takes place just from Xar's perspective. It was intended to be a very tight, close-knit story. I also experimented with other styles, as well. "Ancient's Waiting" was seperated into two parts: The first storyline, consisting of Maarek Stele and everyone else, and the second one, which was just Xar and Zalaria building up to the fight against Nimrod. In hindsight, I don't think it's a style I would use again, because like you say, the long focus on just one character kind of ruins the feeling. Perhaps I should switch the scenes of that story around and stagger them. For Destiny, I knew that I wanted the whole story to be one long battle. Again, not something I would often do. Remembrance is going to be mostly character interaction with just a few battle scenes. Anyway, thanks for saying that the problems have improved - I've really tried to space things out and showcase different storylines. I kind of see the stories like this. The early ones, the Ar'Kell ones, aren't that great but are needed if you want to know the history. The early NI ones, from Awakenings to Harbinger, are a mixed bag because the clubs were still active, they feature lots of characters and plots, and don't seem to go very far. There are also some tough spots to read through and the quality is still so-so. Then from Darkening Skies onward I see as the true meat of the NI Plotline, where my writing finally came into its potential and the storyline takes a more linear and more epic course. I hope that continues with these last stories.

Sixthly, about emotional detachment. I understand what you're saying. You really need to care about the characters for the battles to mean something. I tried to improve on that as I went along, and I have added a lot more of characters' thoughts and internal dialogue than there used to be. This is one of the areas in my writing that I know needs work and that I am trying to work on. I hope that I'm succeeding more with the main characters. Let me know what you think of "Remembrance" so far. On that vein, do you have any suggestions for how I can do better at this? Would you like to see more thoughts and feelings while the battles are going on themselves, are are you talking about the build-up before the battles occur?

Again, thank you so much for the constructive comments and criticism. It is an honor that you have taken the time to read the stories I've written (and I'd definitely welcome help in that regard, too!) You have motivated me to write even more. By the way, there are only two stories left to go. Remembrance, and then the last one. It might be cramming it a little bit, but I think I've found a way to pull it off. A lot of changes are ahead. A lot of big revelations and impactful moments. But I am honestly ready for this thing to be over with. I love it, but I want to write other stuff, things I can try to publish. I can't just leave it alone, though, I have to finish. I am confident it will be completed in 2010.

Finally, about Nico... I'm sorry to put him in such a bad position! Again, this was one of the things, specifically having his brain fried by Zalaria in "Fading Glory", that was one of the shock-factor moments I wanted to put in. But there is still yet hope! After only a few brief mentions in "Destiny," I have actually brought him back into the spotlight in "Remembrance", and we're going to see if we can't give him some help. We're going to take him to the Traveler homeworld along with Xar, to try and get them healed of their predicaments. But if you have any ideas for where the character can go from here, I would definitely love to hear them!

By the way, "Remembrance" is quite a good ways along, currently standing at 53,000 words. I think I'm only halfway done with it, maybe less. It will be the longest story to date, but the last one will be much shorter I'm sure. If you can check out the posts on the Fiction message board and let me know what you think so far, I would greatly value and appreciate your advice! Talk to you later mate!
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Offline Nico

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Joined: Fri Oct 03, 2008 4:49 pm

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 26, 2010 7:37 pm   Post subject: Re: Old Times... and New Times!   

How old is your daughter now? 'bout 6 months? I guess the best part is yet to come ;-) Ours is about 15 months now. As she learnt walking 2 months ago she's trotting around the house all day doing all kinds of stuff she's not allowed to. But on the other hand, she seems to be learning how to be sweet to mommy and daddy and gives hugs when she's tired etc. Cute :)

Now, let's get some answers to your answers to my original points.
As for the older versions, I just used whatever old documents I could find somewhere in the proverbial bottom of my desk drawer and which I could drop onto my iPhone without too much fuss. I only added the last story which I didn't have yet to them, so I guess it's more or less my fault that I had to endure the original stories before the re-writes. About the run-ons, honestly, I'd just put a summary of the story line at the beginning of the next story in the timeline and leave the original run-ons somewhere to rot in a dusty corner of the website with tons of "warning, appalling reading experience" next to them ;-) Frankly, I just think you're scaring readers away from the better stuff that is further down the timeline.

Concerning killing the non-NPCs, I don't like it, but I do understand the logic behind it. I guess I'm just too used to the general kind of SW stories where (with the exception of Chewbacca and Anakin Solo) the good guys always seem to overcome whatever's happening to them.

As for Remembrance, I kind of forgot to check this message board and I currently just started re-reading the Harry Potter septology (is that a real word? If not I just invented it!). I don't fancy mixing two kinds of story lines, so it'll probably be a couple of weeks before I get down to Remembrance. Fortunately, I can read a lot while commuting to work.
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Offline newimperium

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Joined: Sat Feb 23, 2008 3:57 pm

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 27, 2010 4:22 am   Post subject: Re: Old Times... and New Times!   

Hey man! Thanks for the reply and the add on facebook! Now I have two NI old-timers on there, you and Amason. :P

Yep, baby Suria is 6 months old, actually going on 7... But she was premature 7 weeks so her adjusted age is still just under 6 months. She's just learning how to sit up by herself now and we're just now starting her on some solids... mashed up bananas, avocado, squash, etc. We are pretty green/health oriented so we use cloth diapers, exclusively breastfeeding for at least 6 months, etc. She was born at 3 pounds 14 ounces and now weights over 15 pounds, so she is definitely my little miracle baby and I thank God every day for her. :)

Man, I can't wait for her to walk around and talk to us, and to read stories to her, etc. She talks all the time now, but in a language only she can comprehend. :P

I see, I knew something was strange about how you seemed to have older copies of the stories. I knew they had to be files that you'd kept from before. That stinks... I updated all of the stories to fit into this new continuity, trying to give it one central theme, and getting rid of a lot of the stupid stuff and inconsistencies. I've gone back and ret-conned a lot of stuff too. I'd love to get some feedback on it, but even I cringe at the though re-reading it all because the plotline has gotten sooooo long... :P

I fully agree though, the run-ons should probably be locked away somewhere for good... I think I'll take your advice and put them down at the bottom with a disclaimer and eventually just summarize them.

As for Remembrance, the only place you can read it so far is here on the message board. Right now it is sitting at 69,517 words and I believe I am past the halfway point... It will definitely be the longest, probably breaking the 100,000 word barrier, however the next and final story is going to be much shorter I believe, probably in the realm of 50k words or less.

And just so you know, Nico is making a comeback onto the scene... You should see him by the time you catch up with the latest posts on the story. Let me know any thoughts you might have.
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